Those who know me know that I am a strong proponent of capital punishment. As a Biblicist I bow to the laws and principles of divine authority. The execution of capital felons is placed within the venue of civil government in both Testaments. This is right and proper not only for reasons relating to justice and righteousness but also for the fact that the execution of first-degree killers recognizes the dignity and uniqueness of man as the pinnacle of God's creation. The case for capital punishment as a tool of curbing crime is also rightfully postulated. Suffice it to say that an executed killer will never kill again! And with the vast majority of crime committed by repeat offenders this is no small argument in favor of the procedure. That being said, if I was Governor Bush, I would grant Karla Faye a pardon from execution and allow her to serve out her sentence with life in the penitentiary.
The privilege of pardon is granted to those occupying high public office such as Presidents, Governors or Monarchs. Obviously, the potentate may be motivated by high or low ideals but the power of pardon is certainly theirs to exercise. Based upon my personal proclivities and philosophies Karla Faye Tucker would receive my pardon.
Does it matter that she is woman? I could pretend that it doesn't, but it does! That, alone, however, would never be enough reason to make an exception to my support for capital punishment. Does the fact that I believe Karla has had a genuine conversion to Jesus Christ influence my decision? Yes, absolutely.
Before you judge me to be a patsy for "jail-house" religion let me tell you a little bit about my experiences with inmates. My father, Ed Baldwin, was a volunteer chaplain in prisons and jails for over thirty-five years. I cut my ministerial teeth dealing with prisoners. I continue to serve as a volunteer chaplain to prisoners in Florida's penal institutions yet today. During these many decades I can count on one hand the number of convicts that I personally would (or have) recommend for clemency. In fact, Karla Faye Tucker makes number four.
In so recommending I am convinced that Karla's conversion is real. It is interesting that she even has the support of her victim's family members. Beyond that, however, I believe her life and testimony could be used as a significant asset in bringing other convicts to repentance and redemption. Certain high-profile cases of criminal conversions seem to have unusual influence upon others within the prison system when little else does. I believe this is true in the David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) case, the Tex Watson (Charles Manson family) case and others.
After dealing with thousands of prisoners I am convinced of one thing: only a genuine relationship with the redeeming work of Jesus Christ will make a difference in truly transforming and changing their behavior. That being true, real and notable examples of spiritual rebirth are needed and helpful. Karla Faye Tucker has already influenced hundreds of lives, no doubt. If she is miraculously spared her date with death I believe that influence would multiply.
There is no question Karla deserves the death sentence. There are times, it seems to me, that wise and sagacious leaders must be able to see past the letter of the law and demonstrate acts of mercy and pardon when a greater good can be accomplished. I believe the greater good is accomplished with the pardon of Karla Faye Tucker. Will Governor Bush be that wise and sagacious leader? Probably not. Yet, Karla's pardon by the Texas Governor notwithstanding, she has been granted a pardon by the King of the universe! And, in the final and ultimate analysis that proclamation is not subject to review or revision.
--Chuck Baldwin--Monday, Feb. 2, 1998--