In my role as a minister, I have seen people die.
Technological advances appear to have made death easier, including for the observer. This is true in the hospital as well as in states that routinely kill offenders. I have never witnessed anyone killed by the Department of Corrections. I am clear that, improving methods to decrease the pain of capital punishment does not make it less cruel or more just. This week my home state is in the news for a death row debacle. The offender, Lovett, shot a teenage girl in a robbery gone bad and then buried her alive. There is no excuse for what he did. I fear that our distance from the experience of death is allowing us to feel better about choices we should in fact be struggling with more closely. I have never understood why, as a society, we would synchronize our moral compass to one of a murderer. We are part of a system that is torn about how to handle this issue. We tried to kill Lovett for his crime. When his execution did not go as planned, we tried to save his life so that we could kill him again. The irony of this is indicative of our moral struggle. Lovett ended up dying in the hospital from a heart attack. We still did this to him. You and I the voters of Oklahoma allowed this to happen. His painful and complicated death requires us to take a serious look at our participation in this process. If it had not gone awry, his death would have gone largely unnoticed by most Oklahomans.
To be responsible in our decision as a state to execute, I believe executions should be public, televised, and in the light of day. We should not be able to hide from that which we silently endorse.
Now that execution has our full attention. Let us consider the purpose of the Department of Corrections. If revenge is the goal, then the offender must be alive to receive such revenge. If retribution is the goal, then they must be alive to serve. If Rehabilitation is the goal then they must be alive to learn. If reconciliation is the goal then they must be alive to atone. Killing is not an answer for any of these.