It is surprising what curiosity can discover. In this case, the death penalty. From where did it begin? According to the “Crime Library: Origins of Capital Punishment,” there have been codes of law as early as around 2000 B.C. in early ancient cultures.
The most famous of these ancient codes of law that includes the death penalty is the “Code of Hammurabi” that dates back to 1760 B.C. and was discovered in 1901 by an Egyptologist, Gustave Jequir. The Code consists of 282 laws on various secular subjects. It is a black stone pillar 8 feet high and 2 feet wide with the laws engraved on it. An oddity about the Code is that murder is not listed as one of the crimes that warranted the death penalty. All 282 laws can be found at “EAWC Anthology: Hammurabi’s Code of Laws.”
Another discovery, and a surprising one for some Christian and religious people, is that God instituted the death penalty, according to the Bible. It was given to a man named Noah some time after the story of the flood in the Book of Genesis, chapter 9, verse 6, and reads as follows: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” So it was in respect of man (Adham, Hebrew for “Mankind) being created in the image of God, according to the Bible, that the death penalty was instituted.
The implementation of the death penalty by the state government, according to the Bible, is found in the New Testament in the Epistle to the Romans. It is in chapter 13, verses 1-7, where it states that “governing authorities” are appointed by God to keep law and order in society. They also serve as an “avenger” who executes the law and order, and when necessary, wields the “sword” against evildoers, meaning the death penalty.
As for objections to the death penalty, there are considerations to consider. To be sure, there is no doubt a tragedy if an innocent person is executed for a crime he or she didn’t commit. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, between 1989-2011, there were, unfortunately, 10 persons who were executed that had strong evidence of being innocent. In a U.S. death-row study, according to www.TheGuardian.com, it was calculated that of 8,000 prisoners, men and women, in death row between the 1970s and now, about 4.1 percent were possibly innocent.
There is always the appeal to repeal the death penalty to avoid the possibility of even one innocent person being executed, or it is so inhuman and that a life sentence should replace it. Yet, the arousing question is, in view of all the arousing compassionate appeals to repeal the death penalty in order to save even one life, where is the same motivation and action, especially of religious leaders, to save 50 million unborn life forms from a holocaust?
Since 1976 to March 2015, there have been 1,404 executions of inmates. Since 1973, an estimated 50 MILLION totally innocent and defenseless unborn life forms, YES, LIFE FORMS, were sentenced to the death penalty without any chance for a legal appeal, or an exoneration or a life sentence. In these United States, about 24 percent, almost one of four, pregnancies end with the death penalty, which is often not too humane. Yet, how aghast so many Americans get at the use of torture to anyone, even enemies.
Another consideration for the repeal of the death penalty is that it has failed as a deterrent against murder. But how do the objectors really know that it does fail? Yes, there are, according to Death Penalty Statistics, 3,261 currently on death row, which is out of an adult population, 18 years and up, of 209,128,094. So, deduct those on death row and there are 209,124,833 that are not on death row. A lot more out than in. It would be almost impossible by survey to find out from that population how many really have been deterred by the death penalty or even by going to prison. Don’t think there haven’t been many more than those now on death row.
Another consideration that should be considered by the Delaware legislators is the question of creditability. Should their decision to repeal the death penalty be based on a host of repealers that have never been trained in law enforcement but can qualify to be potential victims of criminal acts, or should their decision be based on the major law-enforcement agencies which have banded together to oppose the repealing of the death penalty?
In a previous article in the DSN of Thursday, March 19 [“Death penalty repeal bill introduced again – 24 legislators sing on as con-sponsors; law enforcement groups renew their opposition”], the following agencies were stated as to opposing the repeal of the death penalty: The Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council, State Troopers Association, State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police and Correctional Officers Association of Delaware. In the same article, the chief of the Camden Police Department and chairman of the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council stated that he believed there would be greater risks of retaliation to police officers and correctional workers if the death penalty would be repealed. How would you, reader, like to have one of the above jobs if it is repealed? Conditions are bad enough now for those in those jobs without making it worse for them.
The victims of crime, especially of murder, and their families should be a consideration of concern. Too often, there is too much lack of consideration and sensitivity toward the effect that a murder, especially, has on the families. In addition to a degree of emotional strain to deal with, there should be a loss of a spousal relationship, of (a) parent(s), especially of guidance, of finances to meet their needs, of an effect on their future, and then some.
A financial consideration should be addressed. According to Death Penalty Statistics, the average cost of a death-penalty case is $2.4 million. WHY? If there is no doubt that a person is beyond reasonable doubt of being guilty of murder, why should lawyers be permitted to make innumerable appeals that jack up the price that much? There should be some limitation on appeals in open-and-shut cases. There have been occasions where lawyers at least kept a convicted murderer alive long enough to get a good gory story of a gory crime that would be sold to a crime magazine to pay for his fee. Not only the number of appeals should be limited, but also, the time in which they are made should be limited to a very short time, maybe two years.
The death penalty should only be administered to those convicted of murder, but not to those who may be convicted of an unintentional or accidental killing of others. Those convicted for those kinds of killings should be sentenced according to the severity and the facts of the crime of which they are charged. Even God, according to the Bible in the Book of Numbers chapter 36 verses 7-34, gave an allowance for an exemption of the death penalty for those convicted of killing someone accidentally or unintentionally. There was also a provision made that provided for the protection of the convicted person against any retaliation by any related family member or friends of those who were killed.
To repeal the death penalty would be a big mistake that the legislators and those who are appealing to repeal it, especially those who are Christians and believe the Bible, will have to live with the resulting consequences that it will have on our society, and when, in the future, they have to meet God, according to the Bible.
Jack M. Beck
Editor’s note: Jack M. Beck, now retired,
formerly was a Southern Baptist minister
and a Caesar Rodney High School teacher.