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IN THEORY:Opinions on the death penalty

June 16, 2007

Many academics in recent years have been arguing that their studies prove the death penalty deters murder. The various studies show that between three and 18 lives could be saved by executing a convicted killer. Critics question the data, saying that the experts made mistakes in their methodology. What do you think of this recent data? Has it affected your position on the issue?

Judaism has always believed in capital punishment based upon Biblical Law.

A man must stand trial according to due process of law. You shall not murder is the sixth of the Ten Commandments. It is followed by another of God's Decrees that "if you shed the blood of your brother, then your blood shall be shed in its place."

It should be noted that "one should not bear false witness against his neighbor." Therefore, capital punishment is enforced based upon a witness, evidence and a unanimous judge decree.

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Recent public opinion of the 21st century has not changed my view of opinion on the matter of capital punishment. It should be carried out in cases of premeditated murder.

RABBI MARC RUBENSTEIN

Statisticians cite research on capital punishment as examples of people deciding what point they want to make before collecting data in ways that will prove their point. Not only are there conflicting studies as to whether or not the death penalty deters murder, there is also data on different sides as to whether or not capital punishment is applied justly to minorities, the poor and those who cannot afford adequate legal representation.

I appreciate the conclusion of the American Bar Assn. that administration of the death penalty is "a haphazard maze of unfair practices with no internal consistency;" the ABA has called for a moratorium on executions.

Jesus called for redemptive and reconciling love of neighbor, even of one's enemies; retribution and vengeance have no place for his beloveds. Personally, I don't understand how those of us who worship a God who in human life suffered capital punishment can support the death penalty; I think that life imprisonment without any possibility of parole should be a sufficient "deterrent." The Episcopal Church has consistently opposed capital punishment.

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