The Death Penalty

In last night’s reading of Stephen King’s The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition, I read Chapters 24-25.  I will talk about Chapter 24.

Chapter 24 focused on Lloyd, who shot some people at a store with his partner-in-crime, Poke, and is meeting with his court-appointed attorney (Devins) in jail to discuss what will happen to him.  Lloyd is planning to shift the blame onto Poke, who died in the attempted robbery.  But Devins informs Lloyd that he (Lloyd) is subject to the death penalty because he was an accomplice.  And, because a court decision (Markham vs. South Carolina, which I could not find on a google search) ruled that making people on death row wait a long time for their execution was cruel and unusual punishment, Lloyd could die pretty soon.  But Devins was telling Lloyd this so that Lloyd wouldn’t get cocky, for Devins had some strategy that might get Lloyd off, and he didn’t want Lloyd to look arrogant in the court room.  Devins states that “In some cases, juries have let blatant murderers go just because they didn’t want blood that fresh on their hands.”

For a long time, I was the sort of person who would cheer at a politician saying that he has executed a lot of people.  When I was at Harvard, watching a 2000 Presidential debate, I applauded when George W. Bush said that he supported the death penalty.  A student looked back at me and said, “Psycho”.

Nowadays, I don’t wildly support the death penalty, for the death penalty can be unfairly applied, plus even criminals are human beings.  I was watching the movie Hurricane last night, and I noticed prisoners’ family and friends visiting with them.  Moreover, many of us wait to hear good news: did I get into that school?  Did I get the job?  Imagine waiting to hear if you would live or die.

At the same time, Lloyd and Poke killed people in cold blood—people who would no longer see the people who cared about them, nor have a chance to pursue their dreams.  I can somewhat sympathize with something that Duncan Hunter said in a G.O.P. Presidential debate in 2008: that he believes a person about to commit a murder should—somewhere in his mind—consider the possibility that he could be jeopardizing his own life through such an act.

ADDENDUM: I think the execution of an innocent person is tragic and reprehensible.  I just want to make that clear.

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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