To the editor:
My good friend Editor Dave Lias is right that there are many who disagree with him about ending the death penalty. But he is quite wrong about the reasons those who support the death penalty do that. Money is not the issue, justice is. The fact that murder trials and appeals are extremely expensive, no matter what the penalty, is a disease of our whole court system. Everything from lawyers charges, to the burden of frivolous lawsuits taken seriously by our courts are out of line with common sense.
The death penalty is necessary because : 1. in any system that claims to deliver justice, the penalty must fit the crime, and the only penalty that fits maliciously taking a life is the death penalty. When we reduce the horribleness of murder by making the life of the murderer more valuable than that of his victim, we cheapen the victim's life and become partners of the murderer.
2. The death penalty cleanses society of those who have no respect for human life, and thus preserves the freedom of all to live without fear. If I am free to murder, you are not free to walk down the street without fear.
3. The death penalty acts as a deterrent to more murders. First, the executed murderer will never murder again; the "lifer" very well might, whether inside or out of prison. Our nation is a perfect laboratory of what happens when society goes soft on crime. Our crime rate is the highest among western nations, most crime being done by repeat offenders. We have the largest percent of our people in prison of any nation on earth. This is not because we have been too tough on criminals, but quite the opposite, as most of the public knows very well.
4. If it's not broke, don't fix it. South Dakota uses the death penalty very sparingly, having many safeguards in place. This is as it should be, but our fathers were not idiots, the death penalty should be there for those cases when it is obviously needed.
5. Mr. Lias brings up the resolution passed by the South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. They are entitled to their opinion, of course, but the Bible not only approves but demands the death penalty in a number of places (for example: Gen. 9:6; Num. 35:31) and our Lord Jesus Christ speaks of it with approval in Mark 7:10. Even more significant, Christ suffered the death penalty, that is He was executed, for the sins of His people. Our salvation is not based on the fact that Christ spent life in prison for our sins, but that He fulfilled the justice of God by dying for them. This is what Christianity is all about. Robert Grossman