What is repentance? “It is a change of mind that leads to a change of heart that leads to a change in actions. This change involves both turning from sin and turning to God. [Hal Lindsey ministries]
Is repentance enough? No, redemption affords the person on death row the comfort of knowing that they will be with the Lord, however, actions have consequences.
For the unredeemable capital punishment guarantees that the person will never commit another crimes. This protects the public from at least those monsters of this fallen world who are caught and convicted.
Luke 23:43, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” While Jesus assured the thief of his salvation, He did nothing to prevent the man from paying for his crimes with his life, justice was served.
Prisoners on death row are told when and what to eat, when and how to conduct personal hygiene, and more. They have lots of time “To reflect on their own lives, their own pasts, their own beliefs, their own convictions and guilt, and their own impending future. In addition to time comes atmosphere. The walls of the cells are daily reminders of what they’ve done”.
[Horn, Thomas; Howell, Donna (2014-11-21). Redeemed Unredeemable: When America’s Most Notorious Criminals Came Face to Face with God]
While the Bible speaks of a lake of fire I think hell is more of an absence from God and being alone with yourself for eternity. To me this would represent a burning of the Soul. Something of an equivalency to being on death row.
I remember when Karla Faye Turner was on death row for her part in the very violent ice pick murder of two people. Karla was strung out on drugs at the time but that is no excuse. On the surface it would seem that she was totally unredeemable. Then she went to a puppet show/ Bible study and the rest is history.
It was 14 years before Karla was executed and early in those 14 years she became a born-again Christian. Some refer her coming to faith as a death row conversion in the desperate hope that her sentence would be reduced to life imprison. However, several in the religious community petition for Karla to be spared the death penalty. Had she been spared the death penalty would this not have cheapened sincere death row conversions?
Karla paid the ultimate price for her crime and Justice was served. During her incarceration she led many to faith and perhaps she was there for such a time as that. The story goes that she was humming as she walked to the death chamber and died with a smile and eyes open. I rather expect that she was seeing Jesus who said “Well done good and faithful servant.”