Iowa clergy speak out against death penalty bill

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BETTENDORF- The death penalty debate is very personal for Elaine Caldbeck, an Episcopal priest in Bettendorf.

"It goes back to my childhood and a good friend of mine, Pam Powers was kidnapped, raped, and murdered on Christmas Eve in 1968. He want into the bathroom and snagged her. She was a very good friend. Our families went camping together. And, we as a church sat down and discussed what should happen to the man who'd done this," Caldbeck said.

Fifty years later, Rector Caldbeck was one of more than 180 clergy members who signed a letter urging Iowa lawmakers not to re-instate the death penalty.

Bills are being considered in both House and Senate sub committees.

"An eye for an eye is Old Testament. Jesus calls us to love one another," she said.

"It can be very important to protect people from those who are doing dangerous, bad things, but killing them is not part of the picture," she said, even in cases where a child has been kidnapped and murdered.

"You need to contain this person, but it's not our final judgement," she said.

Iowa has not executed anyone since 1963. The death penalty was officially abolished in 1965.


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