Note: This column is the opinion of Bishop Michael Goings and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Dillon Herald.
I am going to use my column today to make some comments on justice and the death sentence and how these two things must be considered in the public discourse, if we are going to mete out sentences in a just and nondiscriminatory way.
We are, regrettably, living in a time when crime, violence, and even senseless murders are being committed by some who seem to have little or no fear of being apprehended and paying the price for their evil and illegal acts.
There are some out there in the criminal element of our culture who have convinced themselves that the ill-gotten gain from their crimes are worth the risk of capture and doing time.
Such warped beliefs and judgement have been induced in them by many factors and influences.
Perhaps at the top of why so many people are committing these crimes that often lead to violence and murder is the fact that our justice system over the years has become too lenient towards the perpetrators of crime and too inconsiderate of their victims.
At this point, I think it is necessary to briefly comment on the issue about how the justice system has historically been bias and even racist in how it meted out justice and sentencing.
The record proves that African-Americans and other minorities have not been treated with fairness and equality by the justice system like their white counterparts. In far too many cases, Lady Justice has practiced discrimination and deliberate racism through her judicial human agents who meted out justice and sentences.
Obviously, because the vast majority of the jurist were white, they failed to be fair and impartial in how they dispensed justice when it came to whites and minorities, especially when it comes to blacks.
Recently, the usage of DNA evidence by criminologists have exonerated many African- Americans who spent many years in prison for crimes and murders that they did not commit.
Due to a bias and racially motivated criminal justice system, many African-Americans (especially men) either died in prison or were executed for crimes and murders that they did not commit.
Having made the interjection that shined the light on the historical disparity between the justice and sentencing that were meted out for whites and blacks, I am going to now focus my attention and efforts on the issue of capital punishment and whether or not it is humane, an effective deterrent against murder and other horrendous crimes, and consistent with the laws of the Creator. As I venture to briefly consider and comment on each of these areas, I want you to bear in mind that whatever our personal opinions are about justice and the death sentence, we must adhere to the fact that justice and sentencing must not be blind, biased, or racially motivated. Each criminal and perpetrator must be treated without favor or bias toward any, regardless of their race or socio-economic status. Is the death sentence humane? To be humane is to be kind, merciful, and not cruel or brutal.
In my opinion, when a person commits a murder or brutal act against another human being, they have committed an inhumane act and have, therefore, forfeited their right to be treated in a humane way by the criminal justice system and those who dispense justice and sentencing. There is a universal law of creation called the “law of reciprocity” that means whatever one sows, they must also reap.
This law must be activated and adhered to when dealing with people who commit senseless murders and other horrendous acts against innocent people.
Is capital punishment a deterrent against murders? Many people who embrace a belief in being lenient when it comes to those who commit murder and other brutal crimes say that having the death penalty as a part of our criminal justice system does not serve as a deterrent against murder.
They cite studies and statistics that they claim prove their beliefs.
Though their facts might be accurate, they have failed to take into consideration that our criminal justice and penal system, with its appeals, delays, and softening of time spent in prison by criminals, have played a significant role in why the fear of receiving the death penalty is not a deterrent to many criminals and murderers. In my opinion, if those who are caught red-handed with conclusive evidence of committing these acts were executed speedily without appeals or delays, you would see a drastic decline in these senseless murders.
Finally, is capital punishment consistent with the laws of God? Some believe that when the Ten Commandments say that “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13), it is a biblical prohibition of capital punishment. That commandment and the context it was written in was referring to premeditated murder The New Testament is consistent with the Old Testament about this issue as is confirmed by a few relevant passages of Scripture (see Matthew 26:51-52 and Romans 13:1-4).
About all matters of life, we must allow our Creator and God to speak for Himself through His Word. There are many who have allowed their personal convictions and emotions to beguile them on the matter that a God of love can not also be a God of justice and judgement, who has not only instituted capital punishment for murderers, but also a place of eternal judgement and punishment for those who reject His only means of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The bottom line to this column today is that I believe in capital punishment.
However, I believe that it must be meted out by our criminal justice system without racial or socio-economic bias and disparity.