Rehabilitation or Killing: What’s in a Word?
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I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
September 9, 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
Upcoming Events:

Scripture, Catholic Teaching and the Realities of the American Death Penalty
Dale S. Recinella
Monday September 14th
1:00 – 3:00 pm - Florida

(Presentation to the Senior Class)
Bishop John J. Snyder Catholic High School
5001 Samaritan Way
Jacksonville, FL 32210
For information, contact: Ms. Liz Luman, Senior Religion Teacher
phone:(904) 771-1029 or email: Liz Luman or

2009 Interantional Conference of the Association of Christian Therapists
Healing through Social Justice: Meeting Jesus in the Matginalized
17 – 21 September 2009
Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk Hotel & Conference Center
1515 Prudential Drive
Jacksonville, Florida 32207 USA

phone: (904) 396-5100
Dale S. Recinella and Dr. Susan M. Recinella are two of the featured speakers:
Saturday September 19th
1:15 – 2:30 pm
Crying with Mary at the Foot of the Cross: 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.

Monday September 21st
9:30 – 10:20
Touching the Hidden Face of the Institutionalized Mentally Ill: Chronically Mentally Ill Women
Susan M. Recinella, Psy.D.

Dale’s book, The Biblical Truth about America’s Death Penalty, will be available for purchase and signing.

For conference information, contact: Association of Christian Therapists (ACT) 6728 Old McClean Village Drive McClean, VA 22101-3906 USA
phone: (703) 556-9222 and Web page:

Rehabilitation or Killing: What’s in a Word?
By: Dale S. Recinella

Very recently I was asked to make public comment upon the new lethal injection protocol promulgated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

California has the largest death row in the country (the only one larger than Florida). California has only had 13 executions in the last thirty-two years. It appears that some hoped to benefit from my Florida experience providing spiritual advisor services on death watch 12 times, and witnessing five executions on behalf of the man being executed. That included Florida’s horribly botched lethal injection of Angel Diaz in December of 2006.

The most obvious comment which I could have made is the one that I did not make. Namely, that killing people has nothing to do with rehabilitation. So, if the CDCR will be carrying out executions, it needs to be renamed as the California Department of Corrections and Killing. Unfortunately, an observation serving up the obvious generally serves no purpose. Such a comment would be dismissed out of hand. When all is said and done, we do not want to call things what they really are. It makes us uncomfortable.

For example, Dr. George Tiller of Kansas provided late-term abortions for clients from all over the country. The number of third-trimester babies killed in his clinic is horrendous. Surely, it was more than five or ten or thirty or fifty. Anyone methodically killing such numbers of human beings ordinarily would be called a mass killer. But the secular media has made it clear that we are not allowed to call Dr. Tiller a mass killer. Moreover, they assert that if we do, then we are guilty of supporting the act of killing him.

None of that is logical. Rather, it is political correctness pandered as logic. Those who believe late-term abortion should be available and obtainable hide behind the practice of condemning those who call the act what it really is. Dr. Tiller was a mass killer of babies that were viable outside the womb. And we can say so without supporting the unlawful and illegal act of killing him.

In the same manner, we can say that killing adult human beings has nothing to do with rehabilitation. The Orwellian double-speak of calling killing rehabilitation is just as extreme as that of the secular media with respect to abortion and as that of the Nazis who called it healing to kill the mentally ill. Rehabilitation is about the business of God’s restorative justice. Killing is about vengeance.

In “Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice” (November 15, 2000), our U.S. Catholic Bishops have drawn sharp distinction between the rehabilitation of restorative justice and the killing of vengeful justice:

    A Catholic approach begins with the recognition that the dignity of the human     person applies to both victim and offender. For example, even if the death     penalty were proven to be a deterrent to crime, the Catholic bishops would still     oppose its use because there are alternative means to protect society     available to us today. …

    The fundamental starting point for all of Catholic social teaching is the defense     of human life and dignity … [P]unishment for its own sake is not a Christian     response to crime. Punishment must have a purpose. It must be coupled with     treatment and, when possible, restitution.

As Catholics we know that the ultimate aims of human beings and their organizations shape their individual and collective mentality and, hence, their actions. The mindset and actions of an agency whose highest moment is the rehabilitation of a human being will be drastically different than those of an agency whose highest moment is the killing of a human being.

Thoughts to ponder as we mark the tenth anniversary of the day that death row inmate Frank Valdez was found beaten to death in his super-max security cell at Florida State Prison.

First published: The Florida Catholic OnLine, July 13, 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

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

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