I teach high school Theology at a Catholic school. Chapter 2 in the 10th grade Morality textbook is about decision making. What is the process we use to make good decisions? Before we began the chapter I polled students regarding their opinion about the death penalty. Then I sent them into the computer lab to collect some facts. They spent approximately 30 minutes scratching the surface of this issue, learning the “who”, “where”, “why”, “how” etc., of capital punishment.
For example: Who?
Answer: Exclusively poor, disproportionately minority, uneducated, mentally ill and handicapped. Innocent?!... Yes, though rare, it has/does happen. In summary: “If you have the capital, it's not your punishment.”
Next question: Where?
Answer: China, North Korea, Iran….the United States. In the US? Virginia-yes, West Virginia-no.
Justice?!… Deterrent? Statistics show otherwise. Less expensive than life imprisonment? No, three times the cost.
Did you know that before someone is electrocuted they need to be shaved from head to foot? Because they can catch on fire. Yes, it has happened, that’s how we learned to kill them more “humanely." They also wear a diaper so it’s cleaner. Did you know that on their death certificate the cause is listed as “homicide”? Using your tax paying dollars. A lot of them. Did you know that there is some evidence that the reason lethal injection looks painless is because the medicine paralyzes them, not because it actually is painless--they simply can't express it?
After using a process to form their conscience, many sophomores were able to quickly discern that capital punishment is not a good choice. One of the hardest things for me about teaching is accepting that I am planting seeds, that I very likely will not see the fruit of my work. I have to tell you that looking at the poll taken after they were given time to research these facts for themselves made my heart swell.
Coincidentally, within days of our study, my husband received a letter at church from an inmate on death row asking for our prayers. He says there is new evidence of his innocence and he is asking for people to sign a petition to stay his execution currently scheduled for April 25, 2017. Please consider watching the following testimonies of Ivan’s innocence. https://ivansprayerforjustice.org/2017/02/08/learn-the-truth/
The thought of executing an innocent man is horrifying. Even if someone is guilty my faith as a Catholic Christian impels me to a pro-life position. All human life. No exceptions. From the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Womb to tomb. If you are pro-life and have wondered why we’re not making more progress, I respectfully suggest we all can and should be more pro-life. Maybe conversion isn't the exclusive work of "others.” Solely being anti-abortion is not a convincing and authentic witness. If we are only willing to embrace and protect the purely innocent and we routinely reject men and women in need of mercy, our message will be quickly dismissed as holier-than-thou and hypocritical, and rightly so.
Bottom line: It truly doesn’t take a lot of research to discern that the death penalty is arbitrary and discriminatory, and the risks involved with executing innocent people is too great. The death penalty should be abolished. We are so much better than this... Please take a few minutes to sign this young man’s petition to stay his execution and please share with others to do the same. It is a matter of life and death. http://ivansprayerforjustice.org/2017/01/30/stop-this-execution/