Monday, March 22, 2010

Repealing the New Hampshire Death Penalty

I try not to dabble in politics very much, but when it comes to matters of life and death, I feel a little more impetus to offer my thoughts and, where possible, support. So it is with great conviction that I took the opportunity to sign a letter to the "New Hampshire Death Penalty Study Commission" today as a religious leader in New Hampshire.

I am not claiming to know everything about this issue, but from what I have read about it, and from what I understand about the importance of preserving human life (both at its beginning and end), I felt it necessary to lend my support to this cause. Below is the letter that was sent to me, as well as other clergy in New Hampshire. So if you're a religious leader in New Hampshire, I would encourage you to lend your support to this measure as well.
Dear Members of HB 520 Study Commission:

We, the undersigned faith leaders, reflecting the rich diversity of faith traditions and spiritual practices observed in New Hampshire, stand together in expressing our opposition to New Hampshire's death penalty. As faith leaders, the public often seeks our guidance and direction on both spiritual and practical issues. As representatives of our respective faiths, we write to you today to ask you to support repeal of New Hampshire's death penalty.

As people of faith, we take this opportunity to reaffirm our opposition to the death penalty and to express our belief in the sacredness of human life. The use of the death penalty is a gravely unjust method of protecting society, given the capacity of our modern penal system to incarcerate offenders for life. The death penalty has no demonstrated deterrent effect that protects society, law enforcement or corrections officers within prisons. Moreover, the death penalty is applied disproportionately to the poor and people of color and the ever increasing numbers of exonerations shows that it is also applied inaccurately. This direct use of lethal means to protect society from unjust aggressors is unnecessary and unwarranted.

We have concerns about the way the death penalty fails murder victims' family members. As religious leaders, victims' family members often look to us as resources in the aftermath of murder. As such, we have a special interest in advocating for policies that serve their needs and promote healing and well-being. We believe that the death penalty does not help these families, instead, it prolongs their pain and delays their healing.

We write to voice our unease about the way our state's death penalty diverts funds from other needs. In light of the serious economic challenges that face our state and the nation, the valuable resources that are expended in pursuing death sentences would be better spent on programs that have been proven to prevent crime, such as improving education, providing mental health services, funding community corrections programs and putting more law enforcement officers on our streets. The funds would also be better spent supporting programs that assist victims of crime and their families.

It is our respect for human life and our opposition to violence in our society that prompts us to join with other death penalty opponents in New Hampshire to advocate for repeal of New Hampshire's death penalty. We urge you to recommend that capital punishment be repealed in New Hampshire and that state resources be devoted to prevention of crime and achieving healing and restorative justice for victims.


Barabara said...

Thank you for signing this letter to end this disastrous policy. I invite you and your readers to join the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. You can read more about our organization and join for free at our website
Barbara Keshen

Ursula said...

Writing from Germany, I can only support your case with all the experience we have made in the last decades over here. All your arguments are true to reality. Actually, in all European countries with a high standard of education and living, death penalty has long been abolished and crime rates are generally lower over here than in countries with death penalty. May God bless you in this effort. By the way: Dead people cannot repent, can they?