||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is hoping to begin executions soon based upon a new Lethal Injection
protocol which they have put out for public comment. The most obvious comment is that killing people has nothing to do with rehabilitation and,
therefore, the department should be renamed as: California Department of Corrections and Legal Killing.
Moreover, in light of Chaplain Recinella’s experiences with actual executions, the procedures reveal that the folks who prepared the new California
protocol have not been involved at the ground level in this barbaric practice. They do not comprehend the base and banal human emotions that surface
when human beings are granted the license to legally kill each other. Although he is not an expert on chemicals, it is hoped that his input from
ground-zero will wake the CDCR from their idealistic reverie.
Starting July 9, 2009 and for the ensuing seven issues, this Ezine will share with the readers Chaplain Recinella’s comments submitted to the CDCR
on their new lethal injection protocol:
Excerpted Letter of Chaplain Dale S. Recinella to the CDCR dated June 27, 2009 -- PART VI
Re: Written Public Comments regarding the Proposed Amendments to Title 15, Article 7.5, Section 3349 from a Concerned Citizen
with Extensive Experience with Lethal Injection Executions in the U.S.
The purpose of this communication is to provide you with my written public comments regarding the Proposed Amendments to Title 15,
Article 7.5, Section 3349 of the California Code of Regulations from the unique standpoint of a concerned citizen with extensive
experience with lethal injection executions in the U.S. Because some of my comments are based upon realities that might not be
obvious to those who have never been close to this process, certain comments are accompanied by a background paragraph that fills
in the context of the official comment. This is especially the case with comments which request that unaddressed areas be addressed.
I trust you will give my concerns serious consideration; I look forward to your response which should be sent to the letterhead address.
Regarding Section 3349.4.4: The provisions of this section regarding care for the witnesses who are loved ones and family members of the murder
victim fail to provide the means necessary to accomplish the stated purpose.
These provisions should be modified to provide that:
(a) not less than two (2) hours before the scheduled execution, the
Warden shall inquire of every witness who is a family member or loved
one of the murder victim as to whether in the course of the time since
the occurrence of the crime any representative of the State has advised
them that they will feel better, feel healed, or experience closure after
they watch the perpetrator being killed; and
(b) if any family member or loved one of the murder victim answers in
the affirmative, the execution must be postponed until such time as it is
determined by the Governor’s office that (i) the person responsible for
making such representations (or their successor) has retracted and
renounced them, and (ii) the members of the family or loved ones of the
murder victim do not have any expectation of feeling better, feeling
healed, or experiencing closure as a result of witnessing the execution.
Background: In the course of my services as spiritual advisor, I have experienced the impact of executions upon the family and loved ones of the murder
victims. Some have revealed surprise, shock and, in some cases, outright anger with clenched fists and spontaneous utterances, that the promises of
healing and closure that kept them on the state’s side for pursuit of the death penalty turned out to be a setup. In some cases, the reaction is
extreme enough to qualify the lies as a second bludgeoning of the victim’s loved ones. Any discovery by the Warden of this unconscionable tactic
on the part of licensed lawyers should be reported to the bar authorities.
Furthermore, regarding Sections 3349.4.4: The provisions of this section regarding handling of official witnesses fails to anticipate the fallen
human nature that manifests in this process and, thus, fails to regulate it.
These provisions should be modified to provide that:
(a) any and all conduct by official witnesses, especially members of the
prosecution team or political officeholders, which is better suited to a
football tailgate party but is deplorable in the context of the state taking
the life of one of its citizens, is strictly prohibited;
(b) any official witness who shows up appearing bleary-eyed or with
slurred speech shall be subjected to a breathalyzer and/or drug test as
a condition to admission, and if the presence of alcohol or drugs is
confirmed, same shall be banned from participating as a witness; and
(c) the Warden and the staff are strictly prohibited from providing
catered (or staff prepared) banquets or other festive arrangements
for the official witnesses at the execution site.
Background: Those who have not participated in this process at close range drastically underestimate the base and banal human emotions and
conduct which surface, especially on the state side. It is understandable that those who have been involved in seeking this killing for years,
perhaps decades, experience a sense of victory that is far grander and more intoxicating than any Superbowl or sports championship. The
Warden and staff, unless strictly prohibited from doing so, will always be tempted to see themselves as a host to this celebratory spirit
and will be further tempted to provide, at state expense, an appropriate venue for the gala by designating a conference room or visiting area
for a catered (or staff prepared) banquet for the winning side. It is barbaric, but it will happen unless prohibited.
Moreover, the buffoonery, jokes and wise-cracks made by official witnesses who have imbibed before showing up for the “victory party” can
be offensive, demeaning, degrading and despicable. This can be the case in both the witness assembly areas and in the actual witness room.
Unless these provisions strictly prohibit such conduct, with the consequences of refused admittance and/or expulsion, it is guaranteed that
same will manifest.
©2009 Dale S. Recinella
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction without 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