Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Weeks, More Voices

We've heard from Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, the "Father of Ohio's Death Penalty," and now-former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell who signed 119 execution warrants.  We've heard from Terry Collins, the former director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections who witnessed 33 executions.  Last week we heard the family of Chong Mah tell the Parole Board what they told the prosecutors 15 or so years ago:  They don't want Johnnie Baston killed Mr. Mah's murder.
Ohio's Catholic Bishops have now weighed in.
The Catholic Bishops of Ohio agree with recent comments made by both Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer and former Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Director Terry Collins that Ohio's elected legislative leaders ought to debate and ultimately abolish the death penalty.
Here's the whole press release.
Catholic Conference Presser                                                            
And it's not just the church in Ohio.  In Connecticut, where repeal is a real possibility this year despite the fact that the second trial for the horrific killings of the Petit family is to begin, the church takes the same view.
Michael C. Culhane, the chief lobbyist for the Catholic Church in Connecticut, said he feels enormous compassion for Petit and his family. But he also said the church will actively work to support the repeal effort.

"The church's position is grounded in its firm belief in the sanctity of life, as we view life as being sacred from conception to natural death," Culhane said after Wednesday's press conference.
That's from a report by Daniela Altimari in the Hartford Courant.  The press conference?
More than two dozen families of murder victims came to the state Capitol complex Wednesday to make a case that the death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Not for those on death row but for the families of their victims.
In the Connecticut Mirror, Mark Pazniokas quotes Gail Canzano, a Connecticut psychologist whose brother-in-law was murdered in 1999.  She understands, she said, Dr. Petit's anguish and anger and desire to see the killers of his family killed.  But in fact, the death penalty system he so avidly embraces actually makes things worse for him.
"There is no healing in this," Canzano said. "The death penalty ensnares people in the criminal justice system, where mandatory appeals, constitutional challenges and never-ending media attention result in notoriety for the murderer and years of suffering and uncertainty for the families left behind."
. . .
Canzano questioned the point of capital punishment in Connecticut, where the only man executed in the past half-century was Michael Ross, who waived his appeals and chose death over life in prison without possibility of parole.
"If we have any real empathy for the families of murder victims, we'll tell them the truth," she said. "The death penalty doesn't work, and it's not possible to fix it. We'll tell them that it's an archaic process, already abolished in most of the world and on it's way out in the United States. If we have any real empathy for the families of murder victims we'll stop putting them through this."
If there were a couple of dozen at the press conference, a larger group, sent a letter to legislators.  From the Courant.
"In Connecticut, the death penalty is a false promise that goes unfulfilled,'' states the letter to lawmakers signed by the victims' family members. "And as the state hangs on to this broken system, it wastes millions of dollars that could go toward much-needed victims' services."
Of course, Connecticut isn't Ohio.  They put far fewer folks on the row and don't kill them with the same enthusiasm we do here.  Ultimately, though, those are trivial differences. Murder by the state is murder by the state.  It takes years.  It serves nobody except legislators and judges and governors who can declare themselves tough on crime.  It takes money and resources that could be better spent, far better spent on providing services to victims and on crime prevention.  And, of course, it's wrong.  
Connecticut isn't Ohio, but those things are true everywhere.
Voices are being heard.
Even in Illinois, by the way.  Governor Quinn, we're still waiting.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think I'd want the Catholic anything to get involved in this fray. Call it illogical if you like, but given the ongoing problems involving Catholic priests playing grab the holy hot dog with their alter boys and the big church cover up, I'd think there just might be a certain lack of credibility attributed to anything the Catholic Bishops have to say.

    Also, I think the Bishops are likely referring to an expurgated version of the Bible in their comments.