The Christian Perspective on Capital Punishment and Rehabilitation

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Abstract

Christian’s hold three distinct perspectives on capital punishment, namely Rehabilitationism, Reconstructionism and Retributionism. Rehabilitationism is the view that death sentence should not be allowed for any crime; Reconstructionism holds that death penalty should be allowed for any serious crime; Retributionism recommends death sentence for some capital crimes. The last two positions share a somewhat similar view. This paper focuses on rehabilitationism. Proponents of this view comprise those who appeal to the Bible for justification and those who do not. The paper presents the arguments of those in the former group. Contrary to the view of the rehabilitationalists that the aim of punishment is reformatory or remedial, the paper argues that the aim of capital punishment is justice and a good society.

Conceptualization of Capital Punishment and Rehabilitationism

Capital punishment is the taking of an offender’s life for a crime which he has committed and found guilty of by a court or tribunal under law. For Etuk, capital punishment is the death penalty when it is executed after a due process of law carried out by a society’s duly constituted apparatus (2000, 6). It is distinguished from other forms of extra-legal killings such as shooting on sight of suspected criminals, assassinations, disappearance of persons carried out by state agents, among others.

Capital punishment thus defined has existed in almost all civilizations and the modes of its execution have varied from country to country. Amnesty International in 1989 listed out the following modes of execution in current use: hanging, shooting, electrocution, lethal injection, gassing, beheading and stoning (Etuk, 6). In Nigeria, the most prominent me...

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