September 30, 2015
Two executions scheduled within 24-hours of each other have brought the capital punishment debate back up for discussion.
But here’s the unique twist: neither Kelly Gissendaner in Georgia and Richard Glossip in Oklahoma actually committed the murders for which they received the death penalty. The men they solicited to actually kill their victims were convicted of murder and are serving life terms.
Despite last minute appeals to the Supreme Court and a letter on behalf of the pope, all appeals were exhausted. The Vatican’s letter sent to the appeals board in Georgia and the governor of Oklahoma noted:
While not wishing to minimize the gravity of the crime . . . and while sympathizing with the victims, I nonetheless implore you, in consideration of the reasons that have been presented to your Board, to commute the sentence to one that would better express both justice and mercy.
Gissendaner was executed early this morning. Glossip’s execution is scheduled for 3 pm today.
The death penalty raises so many questions:
• The morality and legality of the death penalty itself (Is it Constitutionally forbidden as “cruel and unusual punishment?)
• The number of prisoners on death row who have been declared innocent through new evidence and DNA testing. (The state of Illinois has discontinued executions because of the number of death row inmates found innocent.)
• And now this unique twist where the actual killers are spared death, but those arranging the murders are executed.
• And, for people of faith, does the Bible actually condone the death penalty today?
Here’s my newspaper column from 1992 that addressed these questions: Capital punishment: serious questions.
Update: 5 pm Glossip’s execution was postponed at the very last minute by the governor “to investigate questions about lethal injection protocols.”
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