Some West Texans Join the Fight Against the Death Penalty

By Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

A state-wide movement against the death penalty is gaining momentum; a small group of West Texans has officially joined the cause.

That group of West Texans held their first meeting of 2010 on Sunday and they explained why they're against capital punishment.

They say they're pushing forgiveness and the chance to repent.

"We just feel like the death penalty is not simply a political issue it really is a moral issue," Father Mark Miller, said. "We have grown to the idea that some how killing is wrong but some how, we've justified it in the hands of a state and what we're trying to say is that there is an alternative to make sure the society is protected, but it also gives the individual who does commit a violent crime to repent, have a change of heart, and have a since of redemption."

About 20 people of various denominations are part of the Texas Coalition to abolish the death penalty.

Odessa is the only chapter in West Texas and they say, as Christians, they have to let go of the idea of an eye for an eye.

"The new testament never talks about an eye for an eye," Reverend Gene Collins, said. "That principal is very archaic and has never been a part of Christianity and when we look at the characteristics and the nature of our leader Jesus Christ quite easy to see he would never endorse death penalty, he forgave."

Living in a state known around the world for carrying out the most executions, the group knows it's tackling a touchy subject.

But they stand by their belief, life without parole instead of death, is a better punishment for both the state's pocket book and conscious.

"Most people never have to decide about this issue unless it touches them," Collins said. "I think we all need to look in the mirror and come to grips with our own feelings."

"Once you execute someone and then find out later they're innocent, it's a little too late to correct the mistake," Miller said.