Yesterday, Connecticut became the seventeenth state to vote to outlaw the death penalty. May the thirty-three remaining states with death penalty provisions still enacted in state law be soon to follow!
Capital punishment can certainly be a hot button political issue, but it is difficult to imagine how a group of legislators voting to abolish the death penalty would do so to score political points. Such a vote seems to me to be purely a matter of conscience …
- feeling that the risks of a miscarriage of justice are too high;
- feeling that the punishment is too often unevenly applied;
- feeling that empowering the state to take life is putting too much power in the hands of fallible people;
- feeling that the virtues of mercy far outweigh the questionable satisfactions of vengeance.
Just as mercy in a single human being is a sign of strength and character and spiritual maturity, just so is mercy in a human society a mark of strength and character and spiritual maturity.