Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Can We Really Stop This?

I am not sure I even know where to start with this article from CNN; "Death sentence by jury that discussed Bible thrown out". I guess the first thing I have to say is that no jury should be spending time deliberating the morality of the death penalty. That is not their responsibility once they are on the panel. Each juror has a chance during jury selection of a capital crime to say whether or not they would be able to deliver a death sentence to the defendant – so they need to know long before they get selected how they feel about the death penalty. Therefor if a person ends up on the panel, it is because they have decided that they can in fact deliver that punishment if the facts support it. Once the punishment phase of the trial begins, the jurors should only talk about the facts of the case and if the facts support the punishment of death as stipulated under that state’s (or federal) laws.

The problem with this is that jurors are notorious for not being able to follow the strict guidelines set forth during the trial. And I am sure it is human nature when deciding whether to sentence someone to death to discuss the morality of it. Since I don’t think it is possible to prevent jurors from talking about morality in these situations, I don’t see how we could realistically prevent them from talking about religion or the Bible. A judge can set guidelines against both, but in the end it can’t be prevented and I don’t think decisions should be overturned because of it. As a side note to my argument though, if jurors are allowed to talk about religion and morality during the punishment phase of a capital crime, it leaves the door open not just for Old Testament passages that support the death penalty, but also New Testament passages that are against the death penalty.

I know my argument makes it sound like I am in favor of the death penalty, but I am definitely not. I don’t think capital punishment is right in concept and it is even worse in application in this country. But I am a strong believer in the rule of law. And the laws of some states say certain crimes should be punished by death. Therefore, if the facts say that crime was committed, then the death penalty should be administered. If someone doesn’t agree with that, then they shouldn’t serve on the jury.