Death Penalty

Good Afternoon, I am honored to be here, and I thank you for having me.

Today I would like to speak to you about a very controversial issue-

capital punishment. What do those two words mean to you? To most

people they mean a murder victims family receiving justice for their

deceased. Let me see a show of hands. How many people in the audience

believe in the death penalty? I conducted a weeklong survey of two

hundred people of all ages. The purpose was to see how many people

believed in the death penalty and how many opposed it. My results are

shown on this overhead.

As you can clearly see, 98% believe in the death penalty. 57% believe

that the death penalty is a deterrent for murder. A high of 97% of the

people favor capital punishment, where 1% think that our justice system

should not be more lenient on death row inmates. Only 89% think that

once convicted of murder, an inmate should be sentenced to death

immediately.

I would like to take this time to tell you a story. On August 15,

1997, the Reverend John Miller preached a sermon at the Martha Vineyards

Tabernacle in New Hampshire. He told his congregation, which included

the vacationing President Clinton and his wife, that capital punishment

is wrong. I invite you to look at a picture of Timothy McVeigh and to

forgive him, said Miller. If we profess to be Christians, then we are

called to love and forgive. Once the sermon ended, Rev. Miller,

Clinton, and their wives got together for brunch at the Sweet Life Cafi.



What the Rev. did not know was that 24-year-old Jeremy T Charron; an

Epsom New Hampshire police officer was gunned down in cold blood just

hours before Millers sermon on forgiving murderers. That Sunday marked

Charrons 44th day as a full time police officer, the job he dreamed of

since he was 6 years old.

Jeremy Charron leaves behind his parents, two sets of grandparents, two

sisters, two brothers, a wide circle of friends, and a girlfriend whose

engagement ring he had begun to shop for. Maybe the Reverend Miller

would advise those grieving for Charron to look at pictures of Gordon

Perry, the robber accused of pumping the bullets into Charrons heart,

and 18 year old Kevin Paul, the accomplice, and forgive.

The state of New Hampshire has opted not to forgive, but to prosecute.

Perry has been charged with capital murder. If he is convicted, the

state will seek the death penalty for the first time since 1939.

Jeanne Shepard, the democratic governor, says a capital murder

prosecution will put criminals On notice that if they kill a police

officer in New Hampshire, they will face the death penalty. What if

they kill someone other than a cop? Should criminals not be put on

notice that they will face the death penalty if they kill a cashier in

cold blood? A farmer, or a schoolteacher? They should- but the law

says otherwise. In New Hampshire as in all states with the death

penalty, murder can be punished with execution only in specific

circumstances. The murder of an officer in the line of duty is one of

them. Among others are murder combined with rape, murder for higher,

and murder in the course of kidnapping. First degree murder is not

punishable by death. One who willfully murders a cashier is no less

evil then the murderer of a police officer. Both have committed the

worst crime. Both should be subjected to the worst possible

punishment. That is justice.

Standing in the way of that justice, however, are the likes of Rev.

Miller, who brim with such pity for criminals that they have none left

over for the victims. Forgive Timothy McVeigh, he says, as if we have

that right. Absolve the man who slaughtered 168 innocent men, women,

and children in Oklahoma City. Pardon the killer of Officer Charron.

Nothing could be more sinful and indecent. How sad that Miller,

enjoying his brunch with the president at the Sweet Life Cafi, should

lack compassion for the sweet life of others.

Executions at U.S. prisons reached a 40- year high last year. There are

going to be more executions in the future as these cases are speeded up,

as a result of federal and state laws shortening the appeal process. I

would now like to direct your attention to the overhead.

The following chart shows statistics of the number of executions per

state for the 1997 year. Currently there are only 12 states without the

death penalty. Those states are Hawaii, Alaska, West Virginia,

Washington D.C., Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Michigan,

Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota.

The U.S.