||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
Florida Community College of Jacksonville FL
Downtown Jacksonville Campus
Death Penalty Analysis Class (Not open to the public).
Wednesday April 8, 2009 - 11:00 a.m. to 12:50pm
Presentation: Biblical Teaching and the Realities of the American
Guest Speaker: DALE S. RECINELLA
Catholic Lay Chaplain for Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
For information, contact: Professor John Elac
ph. 407-321-9386 or 386-503-1517
St Peter’s in the Glen Anglican Church, Glen St Mary, Florida
The Biblical Truth about America’s Death Penalty and the Death Penalty Up Close
(open to the public).
Saturday April 25, 2009 - 9:00 a.m. to Noon followed by free lunch
DALE S. RECINELLA - Catholic Lay Chaplain for Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
DR. SUSAN M. RECINELLA – Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed and Families of Murder Victims
For information, contact: Ms. Sue Leger Krall
cell 613-2542 Hm 259-6568
Children Sentenced to Die in Prison
By: Dale S. Recinella
We continue to address the pastoral letters on the criminal justice system issued by our Catholic Bishops in the South.
The third letter, “Suffer the Little Children…” Juvenile Justice in the South, deals with the topic of crime and minors. Today we focus on an
issue that is hot in our current Florida Legislative Session: sentences of life in prison without possibility of parole for juveniles.
In their pastoral letter our Catholic Bishops of the South quote from the 2000 USCCB statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration:
A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice:
We bishops cannot support policies that treat young offenders as though they are adults. The actions of the
most violent youth leave us shocked and frightened and therefore they should be removed from society until they are no longer dangerous.
But society must never respond to children
who have committed crimes as though they are somehow equal to adults, fully formed in conscience and fully aware of their actions.
The most dramatic example of responding to children who have committed crimes as though they are somehow equal to adults is sentencing of
juveniles to life in prison without possibility of parole. Felons who continue to be a danger to society should remain in prison regardless
of their age at the time of the offense. But if we believe in any chance of rehabilitation, the most likely candidates are those who came to
prison as juveniles for crimes in which they were minor players, especially if they did not kill anyone.
In a March 8, 2009 article posted on TCPalm.com (the internet site for The News, The Tribune, and the Press Journal), law professor Paolo
Annino of Florida State University’s Public Interest Law Center summarizes the difference between juvenile and adult crime:
We know statistically that 89 percent of all juvenile crime is done in groups, whereas over 90 percent of adult crimes are done individually.
What we have then is kids in a group, 14-year-olds hanging around with 24-year-olds who commit egregious, tragic offenses, but because of Florida
law, they are charged the same.
Actually, they may face consequences worse than the adults. A national report issued by Human Rights Watch indicates that in nearly 70 percent
of cases in which the youth was not acting alone, at least one codefendant was an adult. And in 56 percent of those cases, the adult received
a lower sentence than the juvenile. Credit that to a badly broken criminal justice system that allows the adult to bargain for himself at the
expense of the child he dragged into the crime.
A bill currently before the Florida Legislature, the Second Chance Act for Children in Prison of 2009, promises to ameliorate such injustices
for those who were age 15 or younger at the time of their offense and were sentenced to at least 10 years in prison without parole. Under the
Act, such juvenile offenders could be considered for release if they have committed no other crime, have shown remorse, have been free of any
disciplinary problems in prison and have participated in the educational programs offered.
An important aspect of this issue is the reality that there are juveniles who are extremely dangerous and who commit horrible crimes on their
own. The Treasure Coast article quoted above identifies convicted juveniles from that area who rape-murdered younger children with no help from any adult.
The Second Chance Act for Children attempts to face that reality by expressing a preference for considering juvenile offenders who were “an
accomplice to the offense or a relatively minor participant or acting under extreme duress or domination of another person.” Also, the bill
does not create any right to automatic release. It provides for a review and consideration for release.
Our Catholic Bishops remind us that Church teaching obliges that second look at the juvenile offender with an eye toward rehabilitation and restoration.
First published: The Florida Catholic March 26, 2009
© 2009 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
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.
Your name and information will never be used or shared with anyone. We promise!
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