Here’s a respect life question: <br> Is innocence more important than finality?
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I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
November 4, 2009
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

Dale & Susan Recinella are taking
a sabbatical from writing and
speaking through early 2010.


The next Ezine will be published in January of 2010.


The talks presented by Dale & Susan Recinella at the 2009 International ACT Conference - Healing through Social Justice: Meeting Jesus in the Marginalized - are available for purchase on CD and DVD.

Panel: How Does One Know What God is Calling Them to Do for the Kingdom? and The True Story of the Beggar Named Dennis and the Poisoned Oyster Dale S. Recinella. J.D., M.T.S.

Ministry to the Condemned and their Loved Ones and to the Families of Murder Victims Dale S. Recinella. J.D., M.T.S. and Susan M. Recinella, Psy.D.

Touching the Hidden Face of the Institutionalized Mentally Ill: Chronically Mentally Ill Women Susan M. Recinella, Psy.D.

To purchase CDs or DVDs of the talks contact:
Robin Caccese
Julian’s House
137 Proudfoot Drive
Birdsboro, PA 19508
(610) 582-5571 or Robin Cassese



Here’s a respect life question:
Is innocence more important than finality?

By: Dale S. Recinella

In the early morning of Aug. 19, 1989, Savannah police officer Randy MacPhail, 27, was gunned down as he rushed to the rescue of a homeless man crying for help from an attacker.


In August of 1991, Troy Anthony Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for the killing of Officer MacPhail.

There was no physical evidence against Davis. Now he claims a mountain of new evidence can prove his innocence — evidence which no court can hear because he is out of appeals and barred from the courts by procedural rules enacted to speed up executions.

The state of Georgia wants to execute Davis without even looking at the new evidence of innocence. That would be normal under the American death penalty. Florida has done that in numerous cases, including the 2006 case of Arthur Dennis Rutherford. The Florida Supreme Court refused, 6–1, to grant a hearing on stacks of sworn affidavits that the state’s key (and really only) witness was mentally ill and had confessed to reputable staff that she was the one who killed the victim. Catholic Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead dissented vehemently. For those of us who watched the horror of the Rutherford case unfold before our eyes, the Davis case has been déjà vu.

U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Rosemary Barkett recently dissented from that court’s refusal to give Davis a hearing on his new evidence of innocence, saying:

    “He was convicted and sentenced based upon testimony of nine state     witnesses. In the affidavits (obtained by appellate counsel for Davis), seven of     nine key trial witnesses recanted their testimony which pointed to Davis as     MacPhail’s murderer. The two remaining nonrecanting witnesses were Sylvester     ‘Red’ Coles, who was himself alleged to have been the shooter in affidavits, and     Steve Sanders, who identified Davis at trial two years after the incident     despite admitting to police immediately following the shooting that he would     not be able to recognize the shooter. The majority of the affidavits support the     defense’s theory that, after Coles raced to the police station to implicate     Davis, the police directed all of their energy toward building a case against     Davis, failing to investigate the possibility that Coles himself was the actual     murderer.”

A divided Georgia Supreme Court and a divided 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals failed to grant Davis an evidentiary hearing on the new evidence. The courts are not the only ones divided over whether actual innocence should trump finality and execution. The police are divided: Some believe that the execution of the wrong man is a profound injustice to the family and honor of MacPhail; others believe that only the expeditious execution of Davis will honor MacPhail’s memory. The original 12 jurors are divided: Almost 20 years ago, they unanimously found Davis guilty in just two hours and passed a death sentence in seven. Now, three have died, two could not be reached by reporters, three refused to comment and four are having second thoughts. Even with former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI weighing in for clemency, the people of Savannah, Chatham County and the State of Georgia are divided.

But a historic moment has occurred. On Aug. 17, 2009, for the first time in 50 years, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a local federal court to hold a hearing on whether Davis might in fact be innocent. Justices Scalia and Thomas dissented, believing that actual innocence should not trump finality. Perhaps they have never witnessed the execution of an innocent man or peeled the man’s young adult daughters from him after their final goodbyes or carried them out as they sobbed so hard they could not walk.

Unfortunately, it is much too easy to allow esoteric legal principles to justify the killing of an innocent man — as long as you do not have to be there to hold his family or to watch him die.




First published: The Florida Catholic OnLine, October 22, 2009
© 2009 Dale S. Recinella and 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.

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

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
to support the IWasInPrison Outreach