STATE AND LOCAL

Why capital punishment kills the best parts of us all

Casey Stegall reports from Gould, Arkansas

 

Arkansas has executed convicted murderer Liddell Lee, marking the first execution in that state since 2005.  And Governor Asa Hutchinson is intent on executing seven more inmates on death row before the state’s supply of lethal injection medications expires at the end of the month. 

Don William Davis was scheduled to be executed several days ago, but the U.S. Supreme Court let stand an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that temporarily prevents the execution, as well as that of another death row inmate, Bruce Ward.  Lawyers for both men had argued that their clients were too mentally impaired to face capital punishment.

I don’t believe Mr. Lee should have been executed or that anyone else should ever be—neither by a state, nor by the federal government.

Is that because I believe that wrongly-convicted individuals could be executed? The Innocence Project has certainly proven that innocent people are sent to death row.  But that isn’t my chief reason for opposing the death penalty.

Is my opposition to capital punishment because of the fact that even a person who has committed almost unthinkable acts still might find God and prove that good can overcome evil?  I do believe that redemption is possible, no matter how heinous a person’s past.  But that isn’t my chief reason for opposing the death penalty, either.

See, I’m not looking, chiefly, to save them; I’m looking to save the rest of us.

I oppose the death penalty because I know, for sure, deep in my heart and mind, that a society that seeks to restore the spiritual lives of those who senselessly snuff out other innocent lives is a far more powerful society in which to live and to raise one’s children.  I know for certain that, in not giving up on those who seem to be lost causes, we preserve our ability to resurrect the best parts of ourselves and our loved ones.  In taking the stance

that there is not one human being who is clearly beyond the power of human empathy and God’s love we harness those forces for the good of all of us.

I am certain that somehow, at some point, and for some very real reason that I promise you I could uncover in one meeting, Governor Hutchinson (whom I have never met) lost his faith that human beings can ennoble themselves by refusing the easy path of retribution, thereby strengthening and purifying themselves to do God’s work in many, many domains.

How about it, Governor?  Give me one hour, on any day and I will meet you in your office.

See, when we give up on one man, even a reprehensible man like Liddell Lee, we give up on every man, and we give up on ourselves.  We risk losing our power as agents of a Higher Power.  And that is an incalculably high price to pay for vengeance.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. 

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