Sunday, November 22, 2009


I have always been somewhat conflicted about the death penalty. Part of me thinks it is an appropriate penalty for murder, especially the most heinous cases (particularly against those who kill children), but in accepting this stand I have always believed that it should be absolutely as difficult as possible for the state to take a life, even if the convicted spends many years waiting for his final day. Death cannot be reversed. As I grow older, I come down, maybe even vindictively, on the side that even if they committed the crime, it is better they suffer in their cell, forced to think about it, than to have the easy way out by death. I know that the death penalty is not a deterrent. . .one only has to look at the rising numbers of individuals on death row, in startling numbers in some states, to know that argument does not hold water. And too many innocent people have been released because of scientifc evidence.

It is with this mindset that I watched a powerful and moving documentary, At the Death House Door, featuring the story of Carroll Picket, a minister present at more than 90 executions, who now is in the forefront against the death penalty in Texas (one of the most active state killers), and the story of what appears to be an innocent man put to death. I was impressed by the strength and wisdom, and quiet purposefulness, of Pickett. I felt for DeLuna's family, especially one sister. I know that in many cases the families of the murdered suffered even more, and I know a hateful demon would rise up in me if one of my sons was ever a victim. But I think many people may come to different conclusions about teh effectiveness of the sentence and the honesty of some of our public officials should they have the opportunity to watch this excellent film.


  1. This sounds like something I would enjoy VERY much. I go back and forth with the death penalty myself. In some ways, I feel it is a harsher sentence to just let them rot in jail, although I don't think anyone should be placed in solitary to 'protect' them.


  2. J.R.R. Tolkien summed up my thoughts on the subject in this exchange from "The Lord of the Rings."

    "He deserves death."

    "Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

    Until humans prove infallible in drawing conclusions, I don't believe humans should take it upon themselves to deal out a sentence so final.

    My closest friend's daughter was brutally murdered, and the killer was caught some 10 years later, based on DNA evidence. A couple of years after that, she's still waiting for him to go to trial. The pain and frustration she has been through are unbelievable, and I have walked a small part of that path with her. She has become a victim's advocate and activist. There's no doubt she believes that her daughter's killer deserves to die. Yet she is still adamantly opposed to the death penalty. I admire her tremendously.