The Death Penalty

Jul 05 2013

This week, Texas executed its 500th prisoner since capital punishment was reinstated. That grim milestone fell to Kimberly McCarthy, a 52-year-old African-American woman convicted of stabbing her elderly neighbor Dorothy Booth to death in 1997 during a robbery to fuel her crack cocaine addiction. There were protests. Not because there was serious doubt of her guilt, but there were claims that racial discrimination in jury selection contributed to her getting the ultimate punishment. But considering that the state with the second-most executions, Virginia, has had only 110 to Texas’ 500, it’s doubtful she would’ve gotten a very lenient sentence for that crime under any circumstances.

Some commentators use the death penalty to score political points, and rail about the subject, either for or against. I don’t, because unlike them, as Governor of Arkansas, I actually had to carry out a number of executions. I assure you, no governor takes that duty lightly. In every case, I would go over the evidence personally, looking for any legitimate reason to spare the convict’s life. But that always had to be balanced with respect for the victims’ families, and the verdict of the jury, who’d actually been at the trial. I understand why people support the death penalty or oppose it. But when you are the one making that call on whether a fellow human being lives or dies, it becomes something a lot more serious than just fodder for a policy debate.

Interested in Mike Huckabee's thoughts on childhood in the South? Click here.

Comments 1-5 of 21

  • Sherry

    07/10/2013 03:24 PM

    As far as "What would Jesus Do?", I think the answer is found in the words, "God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked" but, his judgment also demands the death of the wicked. He commands of us that we do justly and love mercy at the same time. That is why there is no written law that can cover every scenario. We are only given a record of a single act of merciful judgment meted out by Jesus. But, the commandments of God which are the light of our path and the life of our souls demand and provide for the death of those convicted by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Seldom in this untoward generation do we actually have a person convicted of a crime by the testimony of two or three witnesses. A witness is a person who has observed with their very own eyes the commission of act that God has declared to be punishable. Without the fear of the LORD guarding the hearts and the minds of the generation of people executing the judgment of God on earth, there is no justice and no mercy either. The judgment of God is absent from the judicial process when the fear of the LORD is absent from the hearts of the people making judgments from their own understanding rather than from the wisdom, knowledge and counsel of Almighty God. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked because he has provided the means whereby the wicked may come to repentance and be made clean from their sins. The death of the wicked delivers that wicked person directly to hell. God tells us to visit those in prison. Perhaps, visiting those wicked in prison and proclaiming the good news that though their sins be a scarlet they can be made whiter than snow will give God the pleasure of welcoming them into the kingdom of God where they will no longer experience pain, sorrow, tears, or lack. The problem with vain arguments is they lead to vain solutions. God has already spoken. We just want him to give us a "law" that we can enforce. He gave us his commandments for us to keep in our minds and our hearts so that we might not sin against him. That is where his laws belong. They belong in our hearts instructing us in grace and truth, lighting our paths that we might not stumble on the way as we walk through this world. We save lives by executing righteous judgment against those who have rejected the great salvation that is available to them. We take no pleasure in the process. We take every opportunity to extend grace (the magnified mercy of God that saves lives) and truth (what God has declared to be eternal truth). It is by the fear of the LORD that men depart from evil. It is by the grace and truth of God that the lives of men are saved.

  • David Martini

    07/10/2013 07:25 AM

    The Bible clearly states that those who commit murder are subject to capital punishment. Jesus did not refute this.
    The Bible also has provision for self-defense and accidental death.

  • Frank Cicero

    07/10/2013 03:01 AM

    If we accept the bible as the Word of God, it would appear that God has spoken on the subject a number of times under many circumstances. It is clearly laid out in the Old Testament 'An eye for an eye...'. Yet, some argue we live under the New Testament and Old Testament Law doesn't apply. Christ's own words differ when He said He came 'not to abolish but to fulfill the law'. What matters most is not the loss of life in this world as much as the loss of eternal life in the next. I would hope that every person comes to the realization that 'eternal life' comes solely from an acceptance of Christ and as Paul put it ' die is to be with Christ.' We hold too dearly to the things of this world when we should focus intently on the next.

  • Sharon Peterson

    07/09/2013 11:17 PM

    From my readings of the Bible Christ said he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. We see Jesus dining with tax collectors, sparing the life of a prostitute, but not intervening in the lawful execution of a righteous accused criminal. The two thieves on the crosses with him mocked Him, but when the one realized that He was the Christ he asked for forgiveness. Christ didn't command angels to remove the man from the cross, but instead forgave him and welcomed him to paradise in his death. So I believe the evidence in the Bible points to Christ forgiving the sinner, but allowing the judgement. The person may die here on earth but if asking for forgiveness will be welcomed into heaven no matter the crime if they truly repent and claim the Blood of Christ as their shield of righteousness.

  • Mickey

    07/09/2013 10:50 PM

    Actually, the Bible gives us a very good clue as to how Jesus felt about the death penalty. Consider the story of the adulterous woman who was to be stoned and how Jesus responded. The law at that time required the death penalty for this woman and also for anyone who interfered with the punishment. People attempt to use passages from the Old Testament to justify the death penalty. But, in so doing, they miss what Jesus was trying to tell us. We are all sinners and are all the same. Neither you, nor I are any better than the worst criminal on death row. Yet, God's grace is sufficient and powerful to forgive even the worst sin. And, because God has given us his grace and forgiven us, we have an obligation to extend that grace to others, even the worst sinner among us. This is difficult for us to do because our human nature wants vengeance and that is really all the death penalty is about. The best thing we can do for the families of the victims is to help them forgive. If they hold on to the anger, it will just continue to eat at them and make them miserable.

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