"As one whose husband and mother-in-law have died the victims of murder assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses. An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by a legalized murder." ~ Coretta Scott King
I have never been in favor of the death penalty from both a faith perspective and a societal perspective. From what I have seen it too disproportionally affects the poor and minorities. It costs too much. It doesn't deter crime. And as our Episcopal Bishops in CT put it in 2012:
In the time of Jesus, crucifixion was the government's way to inflict the death penalty through extreme physical suffering and humiliation. Crucifixion was all about retribution, revenge, and public spectacle. The cross was an instrument of shameful death. As we look at our Crucified Lord hanging on the cross, we believe that the true shame is on the crowd, and the leaders of the temple, and the Roman authorities.Today, lethal injection has taken the place of the cross. At stake [today] is how we choose to respond to heinous crimes with consistent appropriate punishment and how we respond to the families of victims with compassionate support. The question we must face is fundamentally about us, and what we want the values of our society to be...
An excerpt from a Letter that I signed to abolish the Death Penalty in CT (which thankfully has done so) that speaks to what needs to happen nationally:
We, the undersigned faith leaders, reflecting the rich diversity of faith traditions in Connecticut, call upon our elected leaders to repeal the state’s death penalty. The public often seeks our guidance on tough issues, and we have concluded that the death penalty fails us. In Connecticut, the law already provides a severe alternative punishment for capital murders – life in prison without the possibility of release.A Prayer for Prisoners & Correctional Institutions (from the BCP):
As people of faith, we reaffirm our opposition to the death penalty and belief in the sacredness of human life. We urge our elected officials, to examine the reality of Connecticut’s death penalty and seek ways to achieve true healing for those who suffer because of violent crime. Please support repeal of the death penalty. It is time for Connecticut to move beyond this broken and harmful system.
Lord Jesus, for our sake you were condemned as a criminal: Visit our jails and prisons with your pity and judgment. Remember all prisoners, and bring the guilty to repentance and amendment of life according to your will, and give them hope for their future. When any are held unjustly, bring them release; forgive us, and teach us to improve our justice. Remember those who work in these institutions; keep them humane and compassionate; and save them from becoming brutal or callous. And since what we do for those in prison, O Lord, we do for you, constrain us to improve their lot. All this we ask for your mercy's sake. Amen.
A Prayer for Murder Victims’ Families by Maria Hines
God of merciful love,
Help these families who are victims of murder
To accept the reality of such senseless acts of violence
Without, at the same time,
Succumbing to the despair of so great a loss.
May this violence become for them, instead,
A steppingstone toward greater union with you.
Teach them the forgiveness that was exemplified
By Jesus as he said,
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
And through his redemptive love,
Show your mercy to the perpetrators of these crimes.
Fill the emptiness of their victim hearts
With the fire of your divine love
So as to transform their losses
Into a healing power
For themselves and for our world.