Opinion | Death penalty is a temporary solution, God should have the final judgment
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012 21:04
This semester in my investigative journalism class, we covered the controversial topic of the death penalty.
I would like to start a discussion here, because quite frankly I don’t have a solid opinion on it but I am swayed one way a bit more than the other, and the reasons are mixed.
I would just like to hear what the student population has to say about it. Right away I want to guard this from being 500 feet above ground level and give two testimonies.
Our class has covered all 147 inmates on Ohio’s death row and followed them all closely this semester.
We’ve done research on the process of appeals as well as researched their actual cases.
One story goes like this: Shawn Hawkins was accused of murdering two men during a drug deal.
The main eyewitness who testified against him said in one of the five court hearings in each one telling a different story, “I don’t know if Shawn was actually at the scene of the crime.” Hawkins’s lawyer, Tony Covatta, said the eyewitness was “totally unreliable.”
Regardless, Hawkins was convicted and put on death row under skeptical evidence. The governor of Ohio, after 21 years, half of Hawkins’s life at that point, commuted him on the grounds that the evidence for him even being at the scene of the crime was less than convincing.
Commuted essentially means the prisoner goes from being on death row to being sentenced to “life without parole.”
Another story was of a man named Matthew Hoffman, who raped a 13-year-old girl, then while she was at home, killed all the members of her family, disembodied them and stuffed them into a tree trunk.
It was well known Hoffman was responsible for the acts, and Hoffman was sentenced to life in prison.
The state used the death penalty as a bargaining chip in order to get Hoffman to tell it where the bodies were hidden, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
In the one case, someone was almost executed who certainly did not seem to have enough evidence to be convicted for a death sentence.
In the latter case, the evidence was profound and the accused even confessed to committing the crime.
Yet the death penalty could not be applied to him since they used it as a legal bargaining chip to reveal more of the crime.
Ethically, I battle with this. I can look at Hoffman’s case and say he is not deserving of life, while I can look at Hawkins’ case and say there is not enough information to put him to death.
Ultimately, what Hoffman did was evil.
If these cases don’t strike that inner bone of “that is wrong” I am not sure what else will.
If evil is an act that is the removal of anything which is good and the doing of that which is completely the opposite of good, then do they deserve life?
On the same token, is it right to tell people to stop killing by killing them in return?
My personal opinion that I open to opposition is heavily influenced by my faith as a Christian.
I believe all sin and evil against a holy and good and perfect God that we are responsible for deserves justice.
He wouldn’t be good if He didn’t administer the justice of that evil.
On the same token, my faith in Christ gave me a second breath, a second chance, for my own evils and my own sin.
Even though the level of that evil and sin was different than the cases above, do I demand justice or do I demand a second chance?
I think I stand on the side of a second chance.
It would be a contradiction, in my eyes, to argue abortion is a sin because it is murdering sacred life while capital punishment is not a sin because it is administering justice on sacred life. I think I will leave it to God when he says, “It is mine to repay, I will avenge.”
I tremble before that verse, and at the thought that God is the judge of all our lives holding us responsible for the evils and sins we have committed, not just against society and others, but also against Him, our Creator.
If that is the case, then it is truly amazing the justice I deserve on the cross.