Christian Is As Christian Does
I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
December 12, 2007
Dale S. Recinella, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed

Christian Is As Christian Does
By: Dale Recinella

“Well, I see you’re over the flu,” my friend from church greets me warmly in the parish parking lot.

“You looked rough a few weeks ago. Didn’t think you were going to make it.”

“It was pretty bad, all right,” my laugh is tinged with embarrassment. “Maybe the cruise ship virus has invaded Florida. But, thanks, I’m doing great now.”

“Good. By the way,” he switches gears into his favorite subject. “What do you think of Governor Ryan turning all those guys loose off of death row up in Illinois.”

“That’s an interesting way of describing it,” the shaking of my head communicates dismay at the spin my friend has picked up from the news media. “He didn’t turn them loose—except for the four who had been tortured by police into false confessions. He commuted 167 death row inmates to life in prison without possibility of parole. How can you describe that as turning them loose?”

“Well, they’re not paying the price for their crimes. He let them off.”

“The Governor removed them from a death sentence and gave them life in prison without possibility of parole. That’s not letting them off. Besides, over 99% of the murderers in this country don’t get the death penalty. Even in death penalty states. They get prison time—frequently life in prison. How can you describe giving 167 more murderers life in prison as letting them off? Don’t you think that’s a bit slanted?”

“Well, the families of the victims sure feel that way. Haven’t you seen them on the news? They think Governor Ryan let the killers of their loved ones off the hook! And they are mad.”

“Not all of them. Just some of them. And don’t forget, Governor Ryan did express concern that some victims’ survivors seemed to feel entitled to having someone killed. He found that troublesome.”

“Why? That’s justice!”

“No it isn’t. It’s vengeance. Justice is punishment of the offender and restoration of the community. Killing is getting even.”

“Oh yeah? Well, I think it sets things right.It settles the score. It evens the balance. That’s what helps the community.”

“I’m sorry. I was under the mistaken impression that you were a Christian. Evidently I was wrong.”

“What in blazes are you talking about now? Of course I’m a Christian.”

“You can’t be. A Christian believes that Jesus Christ set things right by His death on Calvary.”

“I believe that.”

“A Christian believes that Jesus Christ settled all scores once and for all, that He restored the balance. We call that reconciliation. The New Testament Scriptures tell us that Jesus reconciled us to God and to each other. No more human sacrifice is ever necessary.”

“I’m not talking about human sacrifice. I’m talking about justice, capital punishment, which is also in the Bible!”

“Justice is punishment. Killing people is human sacrifice.”

“No it’s not—it’s in the Bible.”

“Yes it is. And in the Bible the purpose of the death penalty is human sacrifice to atone for sin. If a person committed a small sin, they sacrificed a pigeon. For a bigger sin, they sacrificed a sheep or a cow. If they committed one of the thirty-some worst sins, they sacrificed themselves. The purpose of the Biblical death penalty was human sacrifice to atone for sins. By definition Christians believe that Jesus atoned for all our sins. How can you call yourself a Christian and still insist on human sacrifice?”

“Are you saying there shouldn’t be any justice? Everybody just walks around scot-free after doing horrible things!”

“There’s that media spin again. No. Nothing of the sort. I’m just saying that justice is about punishment. Capital punishment is about vengeance and human sacrifice. Christians can believe in justice. But I don’t understand how a Christian can believe in vengeance and human sacrifice.”

First published: The Florida Catholic, February 6, 2003 © 2003 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic. Used with permission. No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission. All rights reserved Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.

I Was In Prison
News & Updates
This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.

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Dale S. Recinella, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed

If you Like this Weekly Ezine - You will love Dale's Book!
Sr. Patricia Proctor
Paperback: 433 pages

Excellent book on the topic!,
June 13, 2005 Nathan Eanes
(Review from

The Biblical Truth about America's Death Penalty is a must-read. It deals with Biblical standards of Capital Punishment and then compares them to the system used in America today. It is the best-researched, most faithful to scripture, and most evenhanded analysis I have ever read concerning the Death Penalty. Whatever your persuasion on the issue, this book will teach you a great deal. Recinella is a trained lawyer and committed Christian who now volunteers part-time on Florida's death row. He thus understands law, the Bible, and the system of execution in America. I challenge anyone who supports the Death Penalty to read this book.

This ezine edited by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC - Poor Clare Sister
to support the IWasInPrison Outreach