First off, I'd like to say that I really don't want to be thinking or writing about the death penalty. But it's so heavy on my heart these days and I do have this small platform and I feel strongly that God is calling me to say something.
Yesterday on Facebook, I saw an article about a Saudi blogger who had been sentenced to receive 1000 lashes for what was reportedly cyber crime and ridiculing Islamic figures. He had received the first of the 50 lashes and there was a lot of outrage about this punishment, as it has a good chance of killing him. When I read the story, I was felt sick to my stomach and almost threw up. This man is being punished in such a barbaric way. How could a government do that to its citizens?
And then I turned on the radio later that day to hear about the state of Georgia preparing to execute a man who had been convicted of murder. The murder was videotaped by the victim's (a county trooper) dashboard cam, so there was no doubt of his guilt. However, this man also apparently suffered from mental issues and there was doubt that the proper testimony regarding his issues was heard at the sentencing trial. He was executed yesterday, by the state.
We in the United States hold ourselves up as citizens of a progressive country with a great justice system. But the truth is that our justice system is complicated and full of lots of people who are out to seek after their own political or career gain. And sometimes that means that innocent people or people who are mentally ill are sentenced to death and even executed. Often with untested drugs that cause suffering, something that we should be beyond here in an enlightened country (and trust me, the other methods of execution that have been used in the US are equally barbaric when you look at the details of what goes on). There's no going back after someone is put to death by their government. And while this is all going on in our own country, we get upset at news stories of innocent people in other countries being sentenced to death by their governments and we sign petitions and pray for their release.
In addition to the facts about life on death row, I spent a lot of time last year learning about what life is like for those sentenced to life in prison. And from what I read and learned about in class, it's an incredibly awful punishment as well. Sentencing a person to life in prison is not letting them get off lightly for their crimes. It's a disgusting, terrible, awful way to live.
I don't know what I'm supposed to do with the things I've learned over the past year. I'm a middle class white woman living in the suburbs. This isn't an issue that ever touched my life until I took that class last year in grad school. But now I'm upset and angry and I just don't think the way that many states in the United States are acting is right. I'm proud of my own governor for suspending the death penalty last year.