The popular film Dead Man Walking sent more than a few ripples through the country on the topic of the death penalty. Despite the film’s well-taken point about God’s mercy, its sentimental appeal only convinced me that most arguments against the death penalty are ill-founded.
Not the overt emotional plea, the gruesomeness of the execution itself, or the film’s attempt—through the eyes of Sr. Helen Prejean—to humanize the killer shook my confidence in the state’s right to execute its most flagrant criminals.
The pope’s 1999 plea to “have mercy on...
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