In Defense of the Death Penalty (A Response to Austin Petersen)

Why Capital Punishment Must Remain in America

By Lee Enochs

Princeton, New Jersey


Omar Mateen, the Orlando mass murderer, had he lived, deserved the death penalty. I do not come to this determination haphazardly but after reading and listening to scores of recent eyewitness testimony that unanimously states that Mateen carried out the worst mass shooting in American history early Sunday morning, I believe he was worthy of being tried in a court of his peers and sentenced to death.

I believe it is possible for a person to commit a crime against the laws of God and humanity that are so reprehensible and egregious that he or she has forfeited their right to live in the company of human beings.

My intention in writing this essay is to argue that contrary to the sentiments of recent Libertarian Presidential candidate and Libertarian Republic founder Austin Petersen, sometimes the death penalty, i.e., the legally sanctioned killing of someone by the State as a just punishment for a heinous crime such as murder.

Thus, for better or worse, I offer this essay as a perfunctory defense of the death penalty in contradiction to Petersen’s statement, taken from his campaign website on the subject of “Defending Life,” which says;

“Encourage a culture of life, and adoption, and educate Americans about the “consistent pro-life ethic,” which also means abolishing the death penalty.”

If I understand Petersen correctly, his main contention against the death penalty is that it is unjust since at times the capital punishment is administered by the State to individuals who are in fact innocent and if it is possible that one innocent person could be put to death by the State unjustly this should give cause to abolish the entire practice of capital punishment.

Another compelling argument against the current practice of the death penalty in America pertains to the economic and minority status of the great majority of individuals sentenced to death in the United States. The truth is the vast majority of men and women who have been sentenced to death in American history have been poor and non-white.

Richard C. Dieter, in his seminal 1998 book, “The Death Penalty in Black and White,” illustrates the ongoing injustice of racism in the application of the death penalty.

Furthermore, Dieter argues that racial bias permeates the legal system in the United States and that the death penalty today is a system which vents society’s anger over the problem of crime on a select few.

The existing data clearly suggest that many of the death sentences are a product of racial discrimination. There is no way to maintain our avowed adherence to equal justice under the law, while ignoring such racial injustice in the state’s taking of life.

However, I do not believe the death penalty should be abolished as a result of racial bias in past judicial proceedings and that at times the State executes non-guilty individuals. These issues should cause us to massively reform and clean up our legal system so that that the administration of the death penalty is administered fairly and without partiality and discrimination.

I am also aware that some social conservatives see capital punishment as being inconsistent with a pro-life ethic. This argument is not compelling since unborn babies are not guilty of a capital crime.

I am well aware that many of my Libertarian friends see an incongruity in supporting the death penalty since it grants a clearly corrupt and partial big government the power of life and death over its citizens. Again, the alleged corruption of our government should not circumvent the ageless and unbroken chain of wisdom that has been passed down to us from the Biblical patriarchs, prophets and apostles who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit said,

“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:24).

“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God He has  made mankind” (Genesis 9:6).

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:1-4).

I personally believe in the death penalty in cases of murder since human beings are created in the image of God and that the only compensation and just retaliation for the taking of human life, is that the murderer be put to death.

I know it is not popular to cite Scripture in our secular society, but the Bible has stood the test of time. As our society gets worse and worse and crumbles all around us, the Word of God and its timeless truths endure forever.

I believe the equitable administration of the death penalty is the only deterrent for heinous crimes in American civilization and we must execute murderers that they may pay with their lives for their incomprehensible evil.

I think Austin Petersen is an excellent advocate for Libertarianism today. I hope he will reconsider his views on the abolition of the death penalty.




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