30 October 2012

Crime and/or Punishment: The Death Penalty According to Americans

by Christopher J. Allegretti, Staff Writer

J. R. R. Tolkien once wrote, “[d]o not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” 
© Youthvoices.net
Whether you support the death penalty as the closest measure for providing justice, or find it barbaric and unnecessary, there must be some basis for your beliefs.  In his authorial debut, Exile and Embrace: Contemporary Religious Discourse on the Death Penalty, Anthony Santoro, PhD explores the fundamentals of the religious debate over capital punishment and illustrates how they mirror the values of modern Americans. 

A recent poll taken by the Pew ResearchHYPERLINK "http://www.people-press.org/2012/01/06/continued-majority-support-for-death-penalty/" HYPERLINK "http://www.people-press.org/2012/01/06/continued-majority-support-for-death-penalty/"Center showed that Americans support and oppose the death penalty for a variety of reasons.  For those who opposed it, many stated that they were either concerned about the possibility of a wrongful conviction (27%), or opposed to the death penalty on moral grounds (27%).   For those in favor of the death penalty, the majority  (53%) stated that the punishment fit the crime, while the second most popular response showed concerns about overcrowding or the cost of a life sentence (15%).

© Heidelburg University
Exile and Embrace is a thought provoking read for anyone interested in the religious dimensions of the ongoing death penalty debate. Santoro reveals that capital punishment has little to do with the perpetrators.  Instead, he eloquently argues that the dialogue about capital punishment is reflective of those who would impose the punishment.  Therefore, the focus of a discussion about the death penalty should be ourselves and the mechanisms that we use to carry out, or oppose, the punishment.  Not simply the perpetrators and victims.

Santoro, currently a postdoctoral scholar in History at Heidleberg University, has also published and taught on First, Sixth and Eighth Amendment case law, as well as the relationship between sports and religion in the U.S.

Christopher Allegretti is a second-year day student at Duquesne Law. Over the summer, he studied abroad in Ireland and clerked for Judge McCullough of the Commonwealth Court. In the spirit of full disclosure, Anthony Santoro author of Exile and Embrace, is Allegretti's cousin.