Capital punishment takes away the possibility of redemption


Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, Mennonite Church USA’s denominational minister for Peace and Justice, calls attention to the destructive nature of capital punishment and advocates for the abolishment of the death penalty, through the lens of our shared Anabaptist Christian faith.

Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz

Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz is Mennonite Church USA’s denominational minister for Peace and Justice. For more than 25 years, she served as the coordinator of Mennonite Central Committee’s Restorative Justice program. She also co-authored “The Little Book of Restorative Discipline for Schools” and “What Will Happen to Me?” Lorraine graduated from Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and earned a master’s in Social Work from Marywood University, Scranton, Pennsylvania.  She and her husband attend Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

An Alabama death row inmate, Kenneth Eugene Smith, became the first person in the U.S. to be executed with nitrogen gas today for the 1988 murder of Elizabeth Sennett. Smith requested a stay of execution on the grounds that this method amounts to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected Smith’s request. This is the second time that Alabama has tried to kill Smith, after a failed lethal injection in November 2022.

Alabama is one of 24 states that allows the death penalty. Three states have moratoriums on the death penalty (California, Oregon and Pennsylvania) and 23 states have abolished it.

According to Amnesty International, in 2022, the U.S. was among the top five countries that executed the most people (behind China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt).

A number of years ago, I facilitated a dialogue with a young woman and her mother, who received the death penalty for hiring someone to kill her husband/the young woman’s father.

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