|Kerry Dalton, Victoria Thorpe, Raymond Reyes 9/11/2016|
The conversation rises and falls in our country;
why the death penalty?
In a nation which claims to be advanced, the world leader, where human rights are why we go to war (wow, that sounded contradictory.), we remain one of the few nations to retain such a barbaric practice. This practice continues to align the U.S.A. with countries whose politics and philosophies we judge harshly for their lack of human rights.
The United States is in company with North Korea, China, Yemen and Iran, as the top countries for executing their own citizens.
The United Nations has declared the death penalty to be inhumane.
In Nebraska this Fall they will be voting on this subject, their legislature outlawed the death penalty last year, however some Nebraskans, like attorney Bob Evnen, decided it was worth the cost to try to reinstate state sanctioned killings. California will also have the death penalty on their ballots; both the opportunity to end the wasteful system and the option to speed up the process (CA has not executed any one since 2005, an elderly Native American. Nebraska hasn’t used it’s killing machine in 20 years.)
A recent article on Nebraska’s choice interviewed Mr. Evnen, leading the fight to keep the death penalty. He looks to the Bible first, “… you'll find capital punishment is prescribed for certain crimes. And so we begin with capital punishment is morally required.” Evnen was referring to The books of Moses. (1)
Mr. Evnen has left out some vital details.
In his Bible, death was also a remedy for infidelity, magic, cursing God’s name, violating the Sabbath, and even disrespecting your parents.
Does he want us to follow those directions too?
The following conditions are a few of the requirement before imposing a death sentence found within the Talmud, which is the Jewish instruction to accompany the Torah, or what Evnen and Christians refer to as the Bible, the Old Testament in particular:
*The person accused must have been warned just prior to their actions, and acknowledge they understood.
*There must be at least two eye-witnesses, who both testify to the same story exactly, and they cannot be interviewed together or hear the other’s story. They also must be warned they will be the ones to receive the death penalty if they lie. There could be no benefit to either eye-witness for their testimony or in the sentencing of the accused.
*A court of at least 23 judges were required to agree. (3)
Another point Mr. Evnen states, “…law enforcement overwhelmingly supports the death penalty. That it is something that helps protect them…” including that “… it's reserved for the most heinous crimes and the most vicious criminals.”
Neither of these statements are true. Statistics from the FBI have proven the death penalty is not a deterrent (2), and how do we explain Gary Ridgeway living in Walla Walla Prison (convicted of killing 48 women) while Cal Brown was executed in 2010 (convicted of killing one).
“…At some point I think justice requires that the person that did that horrendous act pay the ultimate price,” Evnen said.
This touches on the most important point in this whole issue; humanity. When we kill people under the guise of “justice”, doing-to-them-what-they-did-to-us, we lose our own humanity. We become the perpetrator. There is no way around it. No matter how you dress it up it is killing when killing is not the only option, and not the best option for humanity.
First we play God and take away their humanity, then we throw away our own by jumping into the killing machine. There is such a tragic cost, and I don’t just mean money!
There are deep tragedies we cannot explain or fix, and some lives will never be the same. I ask us to think about avoiding more suffering, to seek ways of healing and the communal good. More killing never builds a strong close community. As Martin Luther King Junior said, only love outshines hate.
Let us chose mercy and compassion.
End the death penalty.
Campaigns Intensifying For, Against The Death Penalty In Nebraska
by Mike Tobias, Senior Producer/Reporter, NET News August 24, 2016
(2) Death Penalty Information Center
(3) Rabbi Michael Goldstein
|Raymond Reyes, Kerry Dalton, Victoria Thorpe 9/10/2016|