Ring In The New Year
I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
January 16, 2008
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

Ring In The New Year
By: Dale Recinella

My engineer Italian father lived by the famous maxim, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


Our regular country doctor has decided to take three weeks of holidays. So, this is exactly the right time for my wife to give me the plague, commonly known as flu. She kicked it quickly. I have not. Her sweet refrains on the superior stamina of the fairer sex are still echoing in my stuffed, fevered head as I lumber into the office of my new doctor. The last thing I expect in my quest for antibiotics is an early morning discussion about Florida’s death penalty.

“Well, good morning! Happy New Year,” beams my friend from church. “Are you starting the New Year off right with an annual physical, too?”

“I don’t need a physical,” the words croak through my best fake smile. “After five days on jello and bouillon, I know I’m dying. I’m just here to get drugs.”

“Always the card,” he retorts with a back slap and moves next to the chair I have taken on the other side of the room. “By the way, do you remember that discussion we had last July?”

“You probably don’t want to get too close to me,” I caution. “I’m still running a high fever and may be contagious.”

“No, problem,” he backslaps me again. “I never catch this kind of stuff. Must be from living right. Anyway, back in July you told me it would take at least twelve to eighteen months for us to find out if Florida’s death penalty statutes were unconstitutional under that new Supreme Court decision…what was it?”

“Ring, the Ring decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which held that the jury, not the judge, must decide whether the factual circumstances exist that allow the death penalty to be imposed.”

“Yeah. Well you were wrong. We’ve had three executions already. We’ve even got another guy on deck. The people that said Florida’s law is valid were right.”

“No. We still don’t have a decision on that. We’re still waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on how Ring affects Florida.”

“What about the executions we’ve just had in the last three months?”

“The two people that we’re killed right before the election were both severely mentally ill and had waived their appeals.”

“They weren’t mentally ill. Doctors checked them out.”

“They were severely mentally ill. The doctors only verified that they were competent to be executed. Have you ever heard of a state paid doctor who has determined that an inmate wasn’t competent to be executed?”

“Well, I should hope not. Why should taxpayers’ hard earned money be wasted on doctors who are going to gum up the works!”

“They didn’t. And Linroy, who was killed between the holidays, was also severely mentally ill.”

“But he appealed. The Florida Supreme Court upheld Florida’s laws and the Supreme Court sustained it.”

“Not exactly. The Florida Supreme Court did the same thing that the Arizona Supreme Court did in the Ring case. They listed all their concerns about the validity of the state’s law, but said they were bound by the precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court to hold it valid. Only the Supreme Court can overrule itself. And in the Ring case it did.”

“But the Supreme Court didn’t overrule itself. It let Florida’s law stand.”

“To be exact, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.”

“Isn’t that the same as upholding Florida’s law?”

“No. It’s not unusual for the Supreme Court to wait for the right case to make a decision. They have not yet decided on the fate of Florida’s death penalty law.”

“What do you think they will do?”

“They should see Florida’s death penalty for the mess it is and throw it out this year,” I finally muster a genuine smile. “I just hope I live to see it.”



First published: The Florida Catholic, January 9, 2003
© 2003 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.

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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 Amazon.com)

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
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