Would the death penalty be justified in this case?

Viewed a documentary about the Aryan Nation gang prevalent in the Federal prison system. This gang has carried out countless murders within prison on fellow inmates and guards as well as ordering hits on people outside of jail. Would capitol punishment be justified on the leaders of this gang? As one of the most powerful and ruthless gangs in the prison system, it would seem that harsher punishments, such as capitol punishmennt, could only curtail their power and killings.

I don’t believe the death penalty is ever justified, no matter how heinous the crime and no matter how unrepentant the criminal.

Without wishing to offend anyone here, I simply can’t understand how Christians can support the death penalty. We just don’t have the right to take someone’s life. The justice system has a responsibility to keep other people safe and it’s right to impose strict punishments - loss of liberty for life seems a very severe punishment to me.

In the UK, we have seen more “whole-life” sentences being handed down recently, and I think that is something that we may need more of here, for the very worst crimes. However, there are only about 50 people imprisoned in the UK with that sentence, IIRC.

Correction-- the gang is Aryan brotherhood instead of nation

In this scenario, an argument that I have used, the death penalty is pro-life, namely, pro-innocent life. If someone has taken life, and if that one cannot be stopped from taking more life through gang activity except by application of the death penalty, then I view the death penalty as a means of societal self-defense. Catholic moral law allows for self-defense as well as taking life in a just war.

That being said, I would prefer that such a person, in addition to life imprisonment, could be sentenced to life without outside communication as well. Unfortunately, unconstitutional (cruel and unusual) punishment is the only way to render some people harmless.

I do not agree with the belief that modern society can safely incarcerate people for life, in fact, I am sure of it. The argument presented here has kept me supporting the death for the longest. I have now changed. I still believe that the death penalty is the only way to render some harmless, I think that the very existence of even this extreme usage of the death penalty harms the soul of society. A bit of us dies with every execution. Our society has lost the value of life. Regaining this value is more important than an handful of justifiable executions. Tha’s my take.

Agreed. Capital punishment is murder. Just ask Jesus.

I think the Church doesn’t condemn capital punishment in situations where the system can’t ensure public safety. Think how it would go if Saddam Hussein were being held in an Iraqi prison.

In the case of the Aryan Brotherhood, I don’t think anyone would miss some of those guys. But we could lock them up in maximum security solitary confinement. It would keep them alive and render them inert.

No it is never justified in anyway unless it is a last resort but in this case we can just separate them so no it is not a moral option

Justified? By whom? It may, or may not, me justified by me or others. The more important question is, is it justified by God. And, alas, anyone claiming to definitively know the answer is fooling himself.

So is it better to isolate these individuals in solitary confinement whereupon they will likely suffer horrendous mental suffering and likely go insane? Is that the merciful approach?

How many cold-blooded killers die suddenly, without the sacraments, while they rot in prison? How many cold-blooded killers repent and reconcile with God when they know their time of execution is approaching?

I’d venture more souls have been saved by the latter.

Not only does the death penalty provide the urgency to repent, but it’s an incredible act of expiation of that sin for a man to submit to his own death and hand over one’s eternal fate to God.

Let’s not forget the Papal States guillotined criminals at the command of the popes. It wasn’t about blood-thirst; it was about the condemned man being shepherded into Eternal Life.

The debate then becomes, “Does the ends justify the means?” And that’s where it gets dicey. All powerful and authority comes from God. God Himself submitted to Pilate. The thief on the cross admitted he deserved his own death sentence, without any protest from Christ. The Church supported and tacitly assisted executions for almost two millenia. What changed and why? Was it the cruelty of World War II and tyrants like Stalin, and Hitler, and Mao?

It’s always an interesting topic. Appreciate your feedback.

It is the province of the state to determine whether capital punishment is neccesary in a given situation. The Church is a bit vague in the Catechism. It is not something the Church decides on. It is a valid form of punishment at the hands of a sovereign state for the protection of their citizens. Each country, state, county, etc. may have their own ideas about what constitutes protection of it’s citizens. It should be used rarely, and after all other options, kind of like war. The just war doctrine is similar. Just personally, I think it would be ethical if the aforementioned persons are indeed charged, tried, and sentenced accordingly. I’m allowed to hold that opinion under the heading of justice. Even then, I wish for mercy for their own souls, if they end up repentant, and certainly for the souls of their victims. While justice and mercy end up conflated in many conversations, they are different things.

According to the documentary, many of the gang members would be in solitary confinement 23 hours per day yet they would still order hits through visits with family or their attorney or by means of coded letters. I’m against the death penalty but this situation probably warrants it. The State has exhausted all possible means yet these individuals are still a menace to others even behind bars.

He never said this. However, he did say sometimes when it was permitted. Just read Exodus.

FYI - We are not allowed to do this. They can be about 95% isolated, but that is all.

We can’t really approach the issue of whether the death penalty is justified by examining real cases of the moment. That would be like saying would denying medical treatment to someone be justified if they were a chain smoker or an alcoholic. Of course you wouldn’t bother giving a liver transplant to someone who was terminally ill regardless, just as a jailer could mortally wound a prisoner who was on an unstoppable rampage… but to base a general rule or law on an individual situation isn’t just or prudent.

The death penalty doesn’t serve the common good or the dignity of human beings. The States solutions in this day and age of incredible ingenuity, must be non lethal to be truly good.

In time of peace, I can’t see how the death penalty could ever be necessary; even a person like the one described in the OP could be held in solitary with no outside communication, effectively making further crime virtually impossible. Doing that for life is of course harsh, but still better than using the death penalty in my opinion. Even drug-induced coma would be better, though I guess that borders on cruel, not to speak of unusual… In any case, the inmate chose to continue committing crimes from inside the prison walls, and should be prepared for harsh consequences.

That said, I think the death penalty will always be necessary in time of war, and in some serious cases of war crime, after a war. During a war, there’s no way to ensure safe incarceration, and I think fear of execution is the only thing that scares some (potential) war criminals. On the other hand, the death penalty does not seem to work well as a deterrent against regular crime (according to statistics), so I could be wrong about that part.

Where did I say that Jesus Himself gave an opinion about capital punishment? **Ruh, Roh, Scooby, I didn’t! ** My sentence employs what grammarians call a “rhetorical device”. Understand?

And just where in Exodus did Jesus give His evaluation of executions? Chapter and verse, please. :rolleyes:

you know, for this kinda stuff I like to use the comics as a reference.

Superman should have killed many of his villians, that even when put in jail, they escape due to their own methods and kill more people.

but now on the real world, there are no guys in spandex with superpowers, that are capable of taking down a fortified wall with their fists, and then go on a killing rampage across the city.
many of those guys you say are people with enough influence to be able to do what they do, so they have enough influence to avoid death penalty.

of course there are cases of people who can without those kind of influcences escape the prison and go back to their life of crimes, but maybe just taking special atention to them would solve the problem.

No, it really isn’t. The church has never condemned all killing; killing in itself is not evil and the church has always recognized the rights of States to engage in just wars and of the individual to properly defend himself even if it results in the killing of the aggressor. In the same way the church has always acknowledged the right of the State to employ capital punishment.

Just ask Jesus.

Jesus never condemned capital punishment and several times employed parables where the evil people in his story were executed. There is also the incident of Ananias and his wife, both of whom were struck down by God in Peter’s presence. How do you condemn capital punishment without condemning God’s action?


There is no record of Jesus commenting directly on capital punishment, but we do have God’s comment on the matter:Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.

Chapter and verse, please.

Genesis 9:6


Would the death penalty be justified in this case?

I cannot agree with you. We are not talking about self-defense, or killing done during the course of a “just war”. We are talking about state sponsored executions. These are murders. Why is it that that taking the life of an embryo is “murder”, but taking the life of an adult is not? Where is the consistency? Abortion = murder; capital punishment = murder.

Okay, I see that I have to explain my comment to you, too. My comment “Just ask Jesus” should not have been taken literally. Of course, Jesus has been dead for 2000 years, and none of us can **literally **ask Him anything. It was a metaphor, insomuch as Jesus, Himself, was a victim of capital punishment. It was a literary device. Get it now?

When I asked pnewton for a chapter and verse, it was because **he **said that Jesus said that capital punishment was permitted in the book of Exodus. Still with me? Of course, Jesus said no such thing in Exodus or anywhere.

Now, just because God has undertaken such killing as punishment, retribution or whatever, does not mean that **we **are permitted to do so. Using Exodus as an example, God killed the first born son of every family not protected by the lamb’s blood on the lintel. Does that mean that we have permission to do the same? No! It would be murder!

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