||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 V
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 3349.4.6: The provisions of this section regarding post execution debriefing and assessment of trauma for Lethal Injection Team members
fail to provide the means necessary to accomplish the stated purpose. The true psychological and emotional impact of deliberatively killing a healthy
human being at work can be masked by the spirit of camaraderie with the other participants and with those in the system. Also, the spouse and children
of the team members will frequently show the overt signs of the strain (perhaps even physical bruises) before the team member himself/herself.
These provisions should be modified to provide that: (a) the counseling for the team member at state expense is mandatory and must be provided by
non-CDCR mental health professionals; and (b) participation in the counseling by spouse and children of the team member is available.
Moreover, with respect to the execution of an inmate who may be innocent, the long-term trauma to the members of the Lethal Injection Team may be
drastically increased and may include a strong sense of betrayal because they feel duped into killing an innocent man. This trauma and sense of
betrayal is strongly rooted in the Scripture tradition of all three major religions which use the Hebrew Scriptures (Muslim, Jewish, Christian):
“Thou shalt not execute an innocent man.” Exodus 23:7
Therefore, this provision should be modified to require the Warden to affirmatively inform all potential members of the Lethal Injection Team as
to any of the following circumstances that apply to the inmate who they will be executing and to allow each potential member to decline participation
in that execution with full protection from any reprisals by the CDCR:
♦ claims of innocence or mitigation which have not been substantively
ruled upon by a court because of the state’s claim to procedural bar;
♦ loss of appellate review on claims of innocence or mitigation because
of the state’s claim to procedural default;
♦ prosecutorial misconduct which has been overcome by the state’s
claim of harmless error;
♦ sworn statements from credible sources that a third-party has
confessed to committing the crime;
♦ conviction based upon circumstantial
evidence with absence of physical evidence;
♦ use of hair analysis, jailhouse snitches or deals for testimony in the
state’s obtaining the conviction;
♦ DNA evidence showing that the crime scene blood and semen were not
that of the inmate; and
♦ any other facts that would dictate against absolute certainty of guilt.
A form document needs to be added to the documentation package which identifies the facts to be provided to potential members of the Lethal Injection
Team, provides for sign-off as to completeness by counsel to the inmate, and provides for signature verifying receipt by the potential member of the
of the Lethal Injection Team.
Background: The article “Guilt or Innocence Was Not Important as Long as Someone Was Killed,” I Was In Prison, Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
(May 21, 2009) which I wrote concerning the execution of a Vietnam Veteran who was most certainly innocent is attached as an exhibit. Some of those
involved in the execution-day procedures were shocked to find out that they may have participated in the killing of a Veteran for a crime that the
state’s star witness may have confessed to committing herself. No Lethal Injection Team member should ever be put in such a position.
©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