Letter to the Editor: April 7, 2017

Response to executions set for April

I haven’t always been against the death penalty. In fact, when I was younger, “an eye for an eye” sounded pretty good.

I have close friends in the legal profession. They assure me they would never seek the death penalty unless they felt the crime was so heinous, the person so evil, that their removal would make this world a better place. However, where does grace enter this equation? Can God continue to work on a heart? Can God take something horrible and turn it into something beautiful? I believe God can—and that executions deny God that opportunity.

To my knowledge, no state has executed so many prisoners in such a short amount of time since the Supreme Court revived the death penalty in 1976. Also, by state law, a minimum of six Arkansas citizens must witness each death.

I find it interesting that these execution orders were given the week Lent began—the season we ponder the meaning of that first-century capital punishment, the cross.

We can celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on April 16, but it may be a little premature; for eight men, those witnesses and our state, the season of Lent grew by 10 days this year.

Rev. P. Jay Clark
Chair, Arkansas Conference Board of Church & Society
Pulaski Heights UMC Little Rock

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