When someone takes a life, the balance of justice is disturbed. Unless that balance is restored, society succumbs to a rule of violence. Only the taking of the murderer's life restores the balance and allows society to show convincingly that murder is an intolerable crime which will be punished in kind. Retribution has its basis in religious values, which have historically maintained that it is proper to take an "eye for an eye" and a life for a life. Although the victim and the victim's family cannot be restored to the status which preceded the murder, at least an execution brings closure to the murderer's crime (and closure to the ordeal for the victim's family) and ensures that the murderer will create no more victims. Andrea Marie Rojas (Contra): The death penalty is not a just response for the taking of a life. Retribution is another word for revenge. Although our first instinct may be to inflict immediate pain on someone who wrongs us, the standards of a mature society demand a more measured response. The emotional impulse for revenge is not a sufficient justification for invoking a system of capital punishment, with all its accompanying problems and risks. Our laws and criminal justice system should lead us to higher principles that demonstrate a complete respect for life, even the life of a murderer. Encouraging our basest motives of revenge, which ends in another killing, extends the chain of violence. Allowing executions sanctions killing as a form of 'pay-back.' Many victims' families denounce the use of the death penalty. Using an execution to try to right the wrong of their loss is an affront to them and only causes more pain. For example, Bud Welch's daughter, Julie, was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Although his first reaction was to wish that those who committed this terrible crime be killed, he ultimately realized that such killing "is simply vengeance; and it was vengeance that killed Julie .... Vengeance is a strong and natural emotion. But it has no place in our justice system." Santanina Said (Pro):
“[Opponents of the capital punishment often put forth the following argument:] Perhaps the murderer deserves to die, but what authority does the state have to execute him or her? Both the Old and New Testament says, “‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Prov. 25:21 and Romans 12:19). You need special authority to justify taking the life of a human being. The objector fails to note that the New Testament passage continues with a support of the right of the state to execute criminals in the name of God: ‘Let every person be subjected to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment .... If you do wrong, be afraid, for [the authority] does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer’ (Romans 13: 1-4). So, according to the Bible, the authority to punish, which presumably includes the death penalty, comes from God.
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- Fall '19
- Ms. Rona Izza Rabadon