Is death penalty good or bad? I know the Christian must turn the other cheek but what if it involves rape, torture then murder?
Well each case of course is probably unique… but the Baha’i view is that we should have some kind of legal process such as courts to determine guilt and innocence and that there are cases where capital punishment is warranted. Society requires protection and laws are meant to protect people and reduce criminal behaviour.
Baha’is believe that there should be a fair and equal administration of justice and differences of class and race should be eliminated.
I will close with some relevant quotes from Baha’i sources:
The law of Bahá’u’lláh prescribes the death penalty for
murder and arson, with the alternative of life imprisonment
In His Tablets 'Abdu’l-Bahá explains the difference
between revenge and punishment. He affirms that individuals
do not have the right to take revenge, that revenge is
despised in the eyes of God, and that the motive for
punishment is not vengeance, but the imposition of a
penalty for the committed offence.
~ Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 203
As to the question regarding the soul of a murderer, and what his punishment would be, the answer given was that the murderer must expiate his crime: that is, if they put the murderer to death, his death is his atonement for his crime, and following the death, God in His justice will impose no second penalty upon him, for divine justice would not allow this.
~ Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 178
The death penalty is permissible, and should be used sparingly; as a last resort. There are less lethal ways to convince an offender to repent.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
“YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF”
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT
**2266 ** "The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people’s safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.
2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
While the Catholic Church teaches there may be instances where the death penalty is licit (see post #3) in the US there isn’t a need for it. Our capital punishment system is seriously flawed. The criminal justice system, state & federal, would be much better served to sentence the most serious criminals to life without parole.
Eliminating the death penalty in the US would save states who still use it a ton of money. Yes, it does cost a good sum to keep someone in prison for life, but it costs a great deal more to put them to death.
Not really a need for the death penalty.
Can someone elaborate on the bolded?
In other words, why would it save money to keep a convicted mass rapist and murderer like Ted Bundy potentially imprisoned for decades, giving him 3 meals a day, housing, and medical care compared to executing him, which was what was done in his case? Also, as was seen in New York state a few months ago with inmates Matt and Sweat, serious offenders sometimes escape from prison, putting the citizenry at potential high risk again.
I can see making the decision to keep someone like Ted Bundy alive based on giving him the opportunity to repent and come to know Christ, but part of me feels it is appropriate to put to death those who have committed heinous crimes to bring justice to his victims. After all, he didn’t afford mercy to those he brutally raped and murdered, did he?
By the way, my denomination allows for differences in view on capital punishment:
The average cost of incarceration is about $50 per day. This is average which includes medical care, housing, and food. With a death row inmate this cost is higher.
The added cost is the legal costs. When people are given a death sentence they automatically start on the appeal process. The state has to pay not only the cost of the states legal expenses but the legal expenses of the inmate.
The state I live in has a state funded office of state appellate public defenders. The lawyers and their staff do nothing but inmate appeals. If an inmate can not afford an attorney, the state must provide one for them. That right doesn’t end with a conviction. In my state most death row inmates are there for 20 plus years. So the tax payers are paying to incarcerate the inmate, paying to uphold the conviction, and paying to appeal the conviction.
I understand some may find opportunities to escape in reality it is pretty rare for inmates to escape from a secure facilty.
Thank you for the explanation, Horton. I didn’t realize that criminal appeals were so expensive.
Vengeance is mine says the Lord
It runs into the millions of dollars. One attorney I spoke with spent 21 years on one case before the man was executed. He worked on other cases but that was his main case.
I personally don’t believe in capital punishment. I worked in the criminal justice field for most of my career (now retired) and that shaped my view as much as my faith did. I used to be in favor of it. I was still working when my state did the their latest execution. The following day they brought in a team, me included, to help the staff directly involved with the execution deal with their emotions. To help us understand what the staff members may be dealing with we were given a tour of the death house, including the actual room used to put the man to death. To see that room, to see the where a man went from life to death less than 24 hours earlier was enough for me to know capital punishment is wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, that man literally butchered a young woman and should have never been free in the world again, but I think life without parole would have served that purpose just as well.
I lean more toward life in prison without parole, also, but I can’t help but feel the convicted perpetrator of the most heinous crimes may be getting off too easily by life in prison where they get room, board, all the weights they care to lift, TV, and other luxuries that weren’t necessarily afforded to their victims before the perpetrators tortured and killed them. I believe that vengeance is the Lord’s, but I also believe in justice for the victims and their families.
It makes me wonder if it easier for the criminal to cross the line into killing someone when they know the worst punishment they will get is life in prison.
I am truly torn on this issue because I also strongly believe in the mercy of God to allow the convicted felon the time and opportunity to repent and come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. It’s truly a conundrum for me.
Don’t buy into what you see on TV about prisons. No prison time is easy time, especially for the worst of the worst. There is a total, absolute lack of privacy. Imagine not being able to use the bathroom in privacy. Imagine someone being able to come into your home and search through your most private items. Imagine not being home when a loved one has major life event.
I am in no way saying these inmates do not deserve their punishments, they do, but prison is not easy for anyone. I spent the last several years of my career working in one, even that wasn’t easy and I got to go home every night.
Yes they committed heinous crimes and devastated families. Did you know that when death penalty cases are appealed over & over the victims families must live through the trauma again. For years & years. At least with life without parole the appeal process isn’t so lengthy if there is one at all.
My church is against the death penalty.
Pope Francis is right about the death penalty. When I read the Catechism, where it speaks of exceptions, I always picture a crazy pyschopath on a desert island and the remaing humans only have one gun and one bullet. Yeah, you might need to get rid of the guy trying to kill everyone else.
Thanks for the insights from having worked in a prison, Horton. Much appreciated.