I was happy to see some news out of my home state today that the state house had voted to repeal the death penalty: Connecticut Senate Passes Death Penalty Repeal. I know there is passion on both sides of the argument, but I haven’t changed my position that there is no place for capital punishment in a civilized society.
When Troy Davis had his macabre fifteen minutes of fame (does anyone remember him now?) I wrote about my position on this controversial topic here: More than Fair: Why I oppose the Death Penalty. The crux of my rationale is re-posted here:
I wish I had a practical, logical explanation for why the death penalty repulses me, even when those who are executed have done horrible things. But instead I have my usual assortment of squishy affective reasons for it, and I’m still willing myself to believe that those reasons can be enough.
The death penalty says we can’t think creatively anymore. It says we give up. It says we know best, that there is no room for redemption, that death wins. It says that love and mercy have no place, that a person is defined by the worst thing they have ever done, and that if we do not kill because they have killed then “it isn’t fair”. You know who else complains that “life isn’t fair”? Seven year olds.
I want more for us than to be fair, asking an eye for an eye. I want us to comfort victims while also acknowledging that the job of our justice system is not to satisfy the desire for revenge. I want us to realize that everyone deserves defense and protection, that we are all safer when everyone -even the worst among us, who may have started out and who may even remain the weakest – is offered protection under the law. I want a world where we recognize that the line between good and evil runs through every human heart, and that there is always a chance, however slim, that we may nudge that barrier so that goodness and mercy can prevail.