Only one person spoke out in favor of the limited death penalty bill that was debated during an Iowa Senate subcommittee hearing on Thursday afternoon.
Pastor Sam Jones, pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Hudson, pointed to the history of American jurisprudence and law coming mostly from Blackstonian Law Theory and that it points out no human law should be obeyed if it contradicts divine law or revealed law.
“He states very clearly that divine law and revealed law are found in Scripture, and what does Scripture say? Well Gen. 9:6, which is where we’d often find the founding of our civil government, says this ‘Whoever sheds man’s blood by man his blood shall be shed. For in the image of God, He made man.’
“We’re not talking about of course putting to death those who are innocent, we’re talking about those who are guilty and who have destroyed that image of God and done incredibly heinous crimes specifically to minors.”
Pastor Jones pointed to Romans 13, which says we are not to fear our government because they bear the sword not in vain, but righteously.
“This would be a righteous sense to do this, to execute capital punishment upon those who are in fact guilty of a capital crime,” he said. “That is the actual responsibility of our civil government. This bill is the least we could do to let us have real justice and not placing our perceived justice above actual objective justice that has been historically accurate and true of Western Civilization.”
Jones encouraged the legislators to take it a step further and institute the death penalty for any first-degree murder in Iowa.
The next person who spoke was Jaylen Cavil of Des Moines Black Liberation Movement/Black Lives Matter.
“I believe that it is abhorrent and completely unjustifiable that we would even be considering a bill like this today in these times specifically and especially,” he said. “The state has no power and no authority to kill its own citizens, no matter what the crime is. I don’t care about the scope of this bill and how many crimes it covers. Just the fact this is being debated and if it were to be passed it would open up a whole can of worms in this state that we would not get back from.”
Cavil said he was “especially offended” by Pastor Jones.
“I think that that was abhorrent what he said and completely untrue and also racist,” he said. “Speaking of that, I think that the death penalty and I know that the death penalty is racist. We’re in a state that has outrageous disparities, even worse than the national averages. We’re in a state where 3 percent of the population is black but 25 percent of our prison population are black Iowans. Who do you think will get killed when we institute the death penalty in this state? Who do you think will get killed? It will be black Iowans, some of whom may be innocent. This is unconscionable.”
Matt Bruce, the leader of Des Moines BLM, also spoke with Cavil.
“Since the state of Iowa began putting out the minority impact statement, there has not one time been a minority impact statement that has come back and said that the criminal justice system in this state is just, it has equal or equitable disparities and is treating black or brown people equally or protecting them under the law. So until we can get a prison system and corrections system that can treat us constitutionally and can treat us equally, why would we add more responsibility and give more power to a state that has proven again and again that they cannot handle the power and the control that they already have morally?”