I recently read that 138 people on death row, since 1973, have been exonerated of their crimes. In other words, 138 innocent people were sentenced to die for a crime they did not commit.
Can you imagine being one of those people? Can you imagine being someone who was actually executed for a crime he didn’t commit?
This can keep me up at night.
I sympathize with the loved ones of victims of violent crimes. I can’t possibly understand the pain they must fee. But I’m not sure that any of us have the right, or the authority, to determine if another person should die – regardless of how heinous the crime. I know we feel that we should, especially when we consider what the victim’s experienced. And many of us believe in the eye-for-an-eye approach. But I believe in punishment rather than death. I think my faith teaches me that. And I don’t really have a problem with harsh punishment. It should be uncomfortable to pay for the death of another.
The U.S. executed 46 people last year – more than all other countries except for China, North Korea, Iran, and Yemen. These countries are led by dictators. The U.S. is a democracy where individual’s rights are honored.
I think the thing that bothers me is that, in some ways, death is the quick fix. It’s harder and more expensive to keep people locked up. But lots of things in life are hard. If we’re always going for the quick fix, we’ll never persevere to get to the right things.
Why can’t we create a way where people convicted of capital crimes are kept away from society, have to work hard to produce something of value for society, are not even given the benefits or comforts of typical prisons, and can never see the light of freedom? I don’t have an answer, I’m just thinking out loud. But it’s the thinking that leads dialogue that leads to ideas that lead to change.
If we can change for the good, it will make us a better country.