“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!” – Samuel Adams

The Death Penalty: Justice Over Money

gaschamberCory Heidelberger at the Madville Times continues the liberal tradition of upside-down morality with his promotion of a repeal of the death penalty for financial reasons. 

He cites statistics which find that it costs $1.9 million more to execute a convicted murderer than it does to incarcerate them for life.

The truth that he glosses over is that it costs more because, on average, we allow convicted murderers about 12 years of appeals before finally administering justice.   This racks up huge additional legal costs and substantial additional costs of extra security for death-row felons for this average of 12 years.

Our society once understood that good justice must be administered swiftly.  Allowing the criminal system to drag this out for years denies justice to the family of the victim, removes the element of punishment from the crime (thus undermining the deterrent effect), costs the taxpayers much more money, and even denies the perpetrator what we once considered important: a right to speedy disposition of a criminal matter.

I have a far better solution to reduce the cost of dealing with convicted murderers–one that doesn’t allow them to escape the due penalty for their crime.  Allow for an automatic judicial review of their case, allow one appeal, and if these fail, it’s time to take the long walk to destiny. 

Twelve years (some can take 20 years) of seemingly-endless appeals based on technicalities and the hopes of finding a bleeding-heart judge spit in the face of justice and, obviously, are a needless expense to the taxpayer.  Let’s ensure a fair trial was provided…then get the job done.

In addition to saving considerable taxpayer dollars, this would move the punishment closer in time to the offense, thus shoring up a deterrent effect which we know already works, even with the existing average 12-year gap.

Contrary to Cory’s misguided assumptions, there is no moral obligation whatsoever to steal from the taxpayers for anything.  There is no moral obligation to steal from one taxpayer to cover another’s health care, no moral obligation to steal from one taxpayer to pay for another’s abortion, and no moral obligation to take money from the taxpayer to allow a convicted murderer to escape justice.

When someone murders a human being, they have taken a life that is sacred, created in the image of God.  Human life is utterly irreplaceable.  When a murderer takes an innocent human life, they rob the victim of everything they will ever do; they have stolen time, talent, experience, and opportunity.  They have not only stolen from the victim, but the family, friends and other loved ones of the victim. 

The value of what has been destroyed is utterly incalculable, which is why just societies require the ultimate punishment for someone who would wrongfully take innocent human life. 

Any healthy justice system involves recompense and compensation for what the perpetrator took from the victim.  Since a human life cannot be restored once it is taken, the closest a murderer can come to recompense is to give up his own life.  The murderer is required to give all he has to come as close as he can to honor and illustrate the value of what he wrongfully took.

Failure to carry out the death penalty for murderers, found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers, shows disrespect for the value of the life taken and makes a mockery of justice.

As a side note, Cory believes there are “some abortions are carried out for reasons I would find morally questionable.” Some?

Presumably these would be the abortions performed for no other reason or pretense than pure convenience. According to the latest statistics from the South Dakota Department of Heath, those “some” abortions–carried out for the stated reason that “The mother did not desire to have the child”–make up 83.2% of all the abortions performed in South Dakota. The last time I checked, “83.2% of anything constituted more than “some.”

Ironically and as usual, Cory and other liberals want to spare convicted murderers from the just penalty for their crime…while excusing the murder of innocent children who have committed no crime whatsoever. 

I’m coming to the conclusion that, for rational people with a functioning moral compass, there is simply no understanding the liberal mind.


Try us out at the new location: American Clarion!


13 Responses to “The Death Penalty: Justice Over Money”

  1. I read Cory's post and thought to respond myself or at least comment but see here that you already spelled it out superbly. The only thing I'd think to add to what you've written is Ecclesiastes 8:11 – the context is obeying the King and following the laws of society. Verse 11 talks about the evil of delayed justice and the wrongness of misplaced compassion…

    “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.”

    That means the more time goes by, the right thing to do (punish) starts to seem like the UnChristian thing to do. Compassion then becomes misplaced as it shifts off the one deserving it (the victim) and is wrongly placed on the one not deserving it (criminal). So I agree, one appeal and then the only expense after that is a fifty cent bullet. It's a proven deterrent as you point out.

    It has always struck me as bizarre that those who have hearts full of compassion for those on death row are so often the ones who are cold as ice toward the plight of the unborn. Why is it so hard for some to understand the difference between the shedding of judicially guilty blood and the shedding of judicially innocent blood??

  2. While it might be hard to understand the liberal mind, there is a conservative argument against the death penalty- I do not support the delegating to the government the power over life and death of citizens whether they be the unborn, elderly and disabled, or felons who commit heinous crimes. Such a government has too much power.

    Furthermore, a government that inflicts death directly will soon allow the infliction indirectly by such “noble justification” of the economics that certain lives provide no benefit to society (i.e. the elderly and disabled) as authorized in the “stimulus package” under the auspices of health care reform.

    Additionally, I'm not convinced by the so-called “deterrent effect.” When factors that contribute to crime in general and murder specifically are factored in, there is no difference in the incidence of murder in death penalty states vs. those that don't have the death penalty. Only when the study compares the incidence of murder in death penalty states vs. those that don't have it can one assert it is a deterrent. While simple in presentation, its simplicity is its undoing. Does anyone believe that a prospective murderer really considers the potential consequences? They all believe they will never face consequences.

    Finally, I don't believe that it is necessary to kill a murderer for the full administration of justice. To assert that failure to inflict death on a criminal who commits a heinous crime “shows disrespect for the value of the life taken and makes a mockery of justice” makes no sense to me. Vengence is not justice. Justice is the principle of administering the law and punishment fairly and without bias. Determination of proper punishment is discretionary prior to the commitment of the act whether it be life in prison or death. And, to say that killing another shows value for life also makes no sense to me. Wouldn't the sparing of a life show more value for life?

  3. I think I understand where you're coming from, Troy, but your position is based on some flawed assumptions.

    Government must have that power in order to maintain order and administer justice. In fact, it's a God-given and God-delegated power.

    True, it can be misused as we have seen in many countries. However, if the people hold the government accountable to a firm moral foundation, that will not happen. Which illustrates all the more how important it is for a society to maintain a firm moral foundation.

    The deterrent effect is an established fact. Even ant-death penalty researchers have found this to be the case and have, to their chagrin, been forced to admit it. Please check some of the links in this piece for more information on those studies.

    And the deterrent effect would only be strengthened by diminishing the time between sentencing and execution.

    The death penalty is not vengance. Vengence is something people or groups take no another person or group. This is justice carried out by the duly-appointed authority (i.e. the government) after a full hearing of the facts, presentation of all evidence, and a finding beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of ones peers.

    As I explained, a punishment should be commensurate with the crime, i.e. the harm done. Nothing short of giving one's life comes even close to recompense for the act of wrongfully taking the life of an innocent human being, and nothing short of this is commensurate to acknowledge the incalculable damage done.

    A small illustration might help. If someone broke into your house while you were gone, went on a rampage destroying all your electronic devices, walls, windows, furniture, etc. to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars…would you consider it justice if the perpetrator was sentenced to pay you $25?

    Anything short of giving one's own life for the life wrongfully taken is just as much an insult to justice.

    And while TVs, windows and walls can be repaired and replaced, a human life is unique, and can never, ever be replaced. That's why God instituted such a strong penalty for the wrongful taking of innocent human life.

  4. Bob, this is an area that you and I are going to disagree notwithstanding your belief that my assumptions are wrong. I understand that there are legitimate arguments to support the death penalty. I just reject them as a matter of conscience and reason. Let me address a few of your comments.

    “Government must have that power in order to maintain order and administer justice.”

    We have the means to remove a threat to society other than killing them. Is there risks associated with it? Yes. But so does allowing people drink make our roads less safe. Regarding justice, I don't believe that killing another is any more just “compensation” than life in prison. The person murdered is still dead either way.

    “In fact, it's a God-given and God-delegated power.” The Old Testament also gives us the power to divorce because of our hard hearts. It doesn't mean He desires us to use it. The fulfillment of the Old Testament calls us to an attitude of Beatitude (be merciful and forgiving as we want it administered to us).

    “Which illustrates all the more how important it is for a society to maintain a firm moral foundation.” My conscience will not allow me to find morality in willful killing for its own sake.

    “The deterrent effect is an established fact.” My opposition to the death penalty came from research on this very subject. As I'm also a statistician, all studies I've seen have enough confilcting data to make this assertion to be debatable.

    “The death penalty is not vengance.” Vengence is “harming someone in retaliation for something harmful that they have done.” I think the following quote is essentially the same thing.

    “As I explained, a punishment should be commensurate with the crime, i.e. the harm done. Nothing short of giving one's life comes even close to recompense for the act of wrongfully taking the life of an innocent human being, and nothing short of this is commensurate to acknowledge the incalculable damage done.”

    Your example of civil crime and restitution is not applicable. There is no compensation the state can do to provide restitution to one raped or especially to one murdered. The criminal justice system metes out punishment and not restitution. Victims don't have the power to determine what is just punishment. To allow it is a form of “vigilante punishment” Society via the legislative process has the authority to determine just punishment.

    Your opinion that just punishment is death has no more standing in our system that mine which disagrees.

    And, regarding your statement above that only death is necessary to “acknowledge the incalcable damage done,” I disagree because my conscience tells me that sparing life is a greater acknowledement of human life.

    “Anything short of giving one's own life for the life wrongfully taken is just as much an insult to justice.”

    I'm not sure that “giving” is the right word here. The State is “taking” life, a power I'm unwilling to give them. More importantly to me is that while we have a growing “Culture of Death” permeating our entire society (abortion, elderly and disabled health care, euthanasia, etc.), I find it ironic and counter-productive to assert that some killing is right. And doing so under the veil of vengence as justice does not pass muster with me.

    As I said, Bob, we will have to agree to disagree on this matter. My main point is that there is a conservative position that is tenable in opposition to the death penalty. To assert that this is a position held only by liberals is inaccurate. Furthermore, I'm not an exception. My circle of conservative friends is predominantly anti-death penalty.

    “And while TVs, windows and walls can be repaired and replaced, a human life is unique, and can never, ever be replaced. That's why God instituted such a strong penalty for the wrongful taking of innocent human life.”

    Bob, please don't shroud your position with the idea that God “instituted” it and by implication that my view is contrary to God's will. He authorizes its use if “Caesar” determines it appropriate. Your opinion with regard to the power of “Caesar” on this matter is of no more standing than mine regarding what is appropriate.

  5. Yes, we can remove the threat to general society by incarcerating the murder (though not to the guards who must guard the murderer).

    But we cannot obtain justice for the victim with incarceration. Incarceration is a pathetic imitation of justice. The murderer gets to live on while the victim gets to…what? Rot in the ground? They don't get to do anything. I explained why the surrender of one's life for the life is the closest the murderer can give in just recompense for what they took; if you don't get that by now, I don't expect that you will any time soon. And frankly you completely lost me with the drunk driver connection.

    You're also being very myopic and selective in your Bible reading. God's edict for capital punishment was given after Noah came off the ark in Genesis 9. It was given to the human race as that race began again (after nearly being wiped out because of the wickedness and violence characteristic in the antediluvian world). It was issued prior to and independent of the Mosaic Law, and was not transcended or superseded in the slightest with the New Covenant. Romans 13:4, among other places, affirms the rightful power of the state to execute the murderer. People can and should forgive; governments are God's agent of justice, and have a duty to administer that justice.

    Your conscience will not allow you “to find morality in willful killing for its own sake”? Who said anything about killing for its own sake? Didn't any of this sink in? The murderer must give his life as the penalty and recompense for the assault he perpetrated on innocent human life; justice is not satisfied with anything less. Just as a weekend in jail would not be justice for a rape, incarceration is not justice for murder. Capital punishment is not “for its own sake” but the sake of justice, and affirming the value of the human life wrongly taken.

    You deny the deterrent effect of capital punishment (which, incidentally, is merely a side-benefit), yet I somehow doubt you bothered to read the links I mentioned to recent death penalty deterrent studies by death penalty opponents which confirmed this deterrent effect. The primary reason to carry out capital punishment is justice, but the side-benefit of deterring other murders is not inconsiderable.

    If you are going to be this juvenile with your definition of “vengeance,” you might as well advocate that we not lock people up for their crimes. After all, we would be “kidnapping” them and “holding them against their will.” We shouldn't fine them, either; we'd be stealing from them, wouldn't we? We shouldn't require community service of them, because we would be enslaving them, then. Perhaps we should just smile at criminals when they commit crimes. Heaven forbid we do something “in retaliation for something harmful that they have done.”

    This is no “conservative position” in opposition to capital punishment. It is an incoherent, illogical, poorly thought-out sentiment based on a great deal of emotionalism, a misguided quest for moral superiority (superiority to God, I might add), a lack of moral will and profound misunderstanding of what justice really means.

    You owe it to yourself to start from scratch with a foundational study of justice, what the Bible has to say on crime and punishment, and hopefully from there you might begin to get a handle on how fundamentally confused you are about this entire issue.

  6. I'm still curious, too, as to whether you think that $25 fine qualifies as “justice” for the thousands of dollars worth of damage in your wrecked home?

  7. ” if you don't get that by now, I don't expect that you will any time soon.” As I said repeatedly, this is a matter on which we will have to disagree.

    “You're also being very myopic and selective in your Bible reading.” Let's just say I'm glad you are not my spiritual director.

    “Romans 13:4, among other places, affirms the rightful power of the state to execute the murderer. People can and should forgive; governments are God's agent of justice, and have a duty to administer that justice.” Does it say we have to kill them? Does it say we can't respond with Beatitude and show mercy?

    “Capital punishment is not “for its own sake” but the sake of justice, and affirming the value of the human life wrongly taken.” Killing is necessary to affirm the value of human life?

    “I somehow doubt you bothered to read the links I mentioned to recent death penalty deterrent studies by death penalty opponents which confirmed this deterrent effect.” I read them.

    “If you are going to be this juvenile with your definition of “vengeance,”

    From Websters: Vengeance: punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense. How is your entire argument that your definition of justice requires that we kill one who has killed if it isn't exactly this definition?

    “you might as well advocate that we not lock people up for their crimes.” Not once did I not say we should imprison them. Why do you feel a need to commit calumny?

    “Heaven forbid we do something “in retaliation for something harmful that they have done.”” You mean vengeance? You almost exactly use the definition from the dictionary.

    “This is no “conservative position” in opposition to capital punishment. It is an incoherent, illogical, poorly thought-out sentiment based on a great deal of emotionalism,. . .” Simply for this conservative, a government that kills is too powerful.

    “. . .a misguided quest for moral superiority (superiority to God, I might add), a lack of moral will. . .” I'm just trying to submit to an attitude of the Beatitude to be merciful and humility. You should try to leave the peering into souls to God.

    “. . . profound misunderstanding of what justice really means. You owe it to yourself to start from scratch with a foundational study of justice, what the Bible has to say on crime and punishment, and hopefully from there you might begin to get a handle on how fundamentally confused you are about this entire issue.” I am a work in progress always in my pursuit of Holiness.

    Finally, as I said before, your civil property analogy doesn't apply for a criminal matter. For murder, there is only consolation found in Christ. To look to the state for consolation is such a matter gives the State more credit, authority and power than it deserves at least from this conservatives perspective.

  8. Troy, you keep making yourself look worse every time you take a run at this. I'd say you should quit while you're ahead, but that train already left.

    You're certainly entitled to continue to be wrong, but I've tried to help you understand. So disagree if it makes you feel better, but it won't make you any more right.

    I'm also sure you're glad I'm not your spiritual advisor. I try to adhere to Biblical principles and well-established principles of logic and reason. That is a much harder path than taking the buffet-approach to life.

    Yes, actually, the Bible does say goverments don't have the option to forgo justice. Remember that reference I gave to Genesis 9:6? Human beings have an obligation to forgive one another. The state has a God-given delegated responsibility to administer justice for crimes committed.

    You know, I had started to answer you point by point, but it's clear that you either don't possess the intellect to grasp what I have bent over backwards to try to explain to you, or you simply don't want to understand. If I were pressed to guess, I'd say it's a mixture of both. You can't even seem to grasp that someone breaking into your house and vandalizing it is a criminal matter.

    I'm sorry. I have far, far better ways to spend my time than attempting to explain simple things to someone who can't even grasp basic, elementary truths. I truly hope someday the light comes on for you, Troy.

  9. Bob, I prefaced my remarks that this is something that we will disagree on. And since this is a personal values question and the exercise of my own prudential judgment for which I’m called to do to the best of my ability, in sincerity, in prayer, in conformance to my conscience as guided by the Holy Spirit, I’m perfectly at peace with you thinking I’m “wrong.” I’ve reached my position contrary to my secular conservative inclinations through prayerful discernment and use of my God-given reason. For whatever reason, I believe that I’m called by the Holy Spirit to advocate mercy and I will continue to do so in obedience and humility. Nothing in my remarks were intended to change your mind as I understand those who advocate the death penalty as I once advocated it. My remarks were to only explain where this conservative was coming from.

    Because I’m at peace with my position and how I got here, I take no offense that you consider me “wrong,” illogical,” of limited “initellect,” “unable to “grasp basic simple truths,” or question my adherence to Biblical principles. I’ve been called worse by better and smarter and worse and dumber people than you. As imperfect as I may be, I’m on a walk of beatitude which confronts me with decisive moral choices. This walk invtes me to daily purify my heart of bad instincts and seek the love of God above all else. And I pray that I’m always willing to go where the Lord leads me.

    But I do want to clear some things up.

    1) I understand that breaking into a house is a criminal matter. I was only pointing out that property damage loss is able to be calculated and a monetary restitution established to represent justice. For crimes against humanity (murder, rape, etc.), there is no way to rectify it by either monetary or other means of punishment.

    2) I try to discern the will of God in most that I do and my Spiritual Advisor is both a holy and learned man. But like you, I have my own failings and fall short of both infallible understanding and living out my call. But make no mistake, I pray always for the will and strength to follow even if the path is hard. I do not look for the easy path. In fact as a conservative, the easy path would be to just fall in line and support the death penalty. But being a “good conservative” is not my foremost goal.

  10. Bob, this is your site so I appreciate and respect your right to allow what you want on your site. But it ironic that your site which claims to promote Christian values would be so personally critical of another Christian’s dignity and motives and not allow a response.

    Words you used to describe me or my position:

    Wrong and not right- With implication that I’m somehow cooperating with evil
    Pathetic
    Lack intellect- As in stupid
    Selective- As in purposely ignoring information with an intent to reach a false position
    Incoherent-
    Illogical-
    sentimental
    emotional
    misguided
    Morally superior

    You also use words that imply against me personally or my motives:

    Dense
    Disengenuous
    Hold extreme positions because of your view on my words on mercy
    Blasphemous
    Anti-Biblical

    You know nothing of my personal experiences, spiritual heart, or motives in holding this position yet you still ascribed commentary on all those things in a derogatory manner that in effect was an attempt to discredit me personally. This is not only ad hominem attacks but also because you know nothing of me are:

    An assumption without foundation of my moral fault
    A making that could disparage my reputation or make false judgements about me.

    By any Christian standard these are offenses against the 8th Commandment. I expect or desire no formal or informal apology. I point these out because charity requires beneficience and fraternal correction. It is a matter between you and God with regard to your motives or intent in using all these words of disparagement and insult. Frankly, I’ve washed me feet of the dust of this site.

  11. Today’s Daily Readings for March 29, 2009

    Daniel 9:4b-10

    “Lord, great and awesome God, you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you and observe your commandments! We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.We have not obeyed your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land.

    Justice, O Lord, is on your side; we are shamefaced even to this day: we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, and all Israel, near and far, in all the countries to which you have scattered them because of their treachery toward you. O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers, for having sinned against you. But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
    Yet we rebelled against you and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God, to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets.”

    Psalm 79:8, 9, 11 and 13

    R. (see 103:10a) Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.

    Remember not against us the iniquities of the past; may your compassion quickly come to us, for we are brought very low.

    R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.

    Help us, O God our savior, because of the glory of your name; Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake.

    R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.

    Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you; with your great power free those doomed to death. Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; through all generations we will declare your praise.

    R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.

    Gospel Luke 6:36-38

    Jesus said to his disciples: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

    Today’s Daily Reflection for March 29, 2009

    http://www.usccb.org/video/reflections.shtml

  12. For those finding it difficult to grasp that the state has different authority and responsibility than the individual, consider this example.

    In a home, if one sibling mistreats another, does the offended sibling have the authority to mete out punishment? No. Does the parent? Of course.

    What happens if the parent fails to carry out their responsibility to ensure recompense to the injured sibling and appropriate punishment to the offender? The injured party will lose confidence in justice and fairness (and perhaps begin engaging in inappropriate behavior out of spite and/or lack of fear of punishment. The offender will likely become emboldened to escalating acts of belligerence.

    To merely wag a finger and tell the offending sibling “That wasn't nice” before moving on with other things is an affront to justice as is the failure to require punishment of the murderer commensurate with the act of wrongfully taking the life of an innocent person.

    A weak and cowardly punishment for a murderer offends justice and devalues the life wrongfully taken by the murderer.

  13. For those finding it difficult to grasp that the state has different authority and responsibility than the individual, consider this example.

    In a home, if one sibling mistreats another, does the offended sibling have the authority to mete out punishment? No. Does the parent? Of course.

    What happens if the parent fails to carry out their responsibility to ensure recompense to the injured sibling and appropriate punishment to the offender? The injured party will lose confidence in justice and fairness (and perhaps begin engaging in inappropriate behavior out of spite and/or lack of fear of punishment. The offender will likely become emboldened to escalating acts of belligerence.

    To merely wag a finger and tell the offending sibling “That wasn't nice” before moving on with other things is an affront to justice as is the failure to require punishment of the murderer commensurate with the act of wrongfully taking the life of an innocent person.

    A weak and cowardly punishment for a murderer offends justice and devalues the life wrongfully taken by the murderer.