An Unfortunate Judicial Connection: Abortion Rights and the Modern U.S. Death Penalty are Irish Twins--Both Birthed from the Same Supreme Court Less Than a Year Apart
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I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
August 1, 2011
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

No Justification for Death Penalty
By:Archbishop Thomas Wenski
The Archdiocese of Miami

Governor Rick Scott has signed his first death warrant. While originally scheduled for Aug. 2, a stay granted by the Florida Supreme Court to review the lethal injection protocol will postpone the execution of Manuel Valle until Sept. 1.

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s intervention, Gov. Scott has the opportunity to reconsider his decision — and I along with the other bishops of Florida urge him to do so.

Manuel Valle was found guilty of shedding innocent blood — that of a police officer, Luis Pena. He also attempted to shoot another officer, Gary Spell. These crimes are heinous — but they were committed more than 30 years ago. After 30 years, is it necessary for the State of Florida to kill this man? Does society really make a coherent statement against killing by killing?

The argument has been made that the application of the death penalty represents the legitimate self defense of society from an unjust aggressor, i.e. the murderer. And, historically, the Church has conceded the point that the state can rightly apply capital punishment when absolutely necessary, i.e., when otherwise impossible to defend society. There is, in Church teaching, no moral equivalence between the execution of the guilty after due process of law and the willful destruction of innocent life that happens with abortion or euthanasia. However, Pope John Paul II has pointed out in Evangelium Vitae (no. 56): given the organization of today’s penal system and the option of imposing life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, such an “absolute necessity” is “practically non-existent”.

Also, it is difficult to defend the “necessity” of executing someone when often his accomplice, in exchange for information or testimony, is given through plea bargaining a lesser sentence. And while some loved ones seek “closure”, it is hard to see how capital punishment as “social retribution” or “institutional vengeance” really serves the purpose of punishment which should be designed to redress the disorder caused by the offense. The death penalty cannot bring the victims back to life.

Even from a purely pragmatic or utilitarian point of view, the death penalty cannot be defended. It is not an effective deterrent to crime. Texas has executed more criminals than any other state; yet, it still has one of the highest murder rates in the nation. And the death penalty is not cost effective. It costs the state less to imprison someone for the remainder of his natural life than to execute him. Given that it is irreversible, society has rightly provided that it be applied only after lengthy and expensive legal appeals. And, in spite of this, there are dozens of documented cases of wrongly convicted innocent people executed in the last century.

Willful murder is a heinous crime; it cries to God for justice. Yet, God did not require Cain’s life for having spilt Abel’s blood. While God certainly punished history’s first murderer, he nevertheless put a mark on him to protect Cain from those wishing to kill him to avenge Abel’s murder (cf. Gn 4:15). Like Cain, the condemned prisoner on death row — for all the evil of his crimes — remains a person. Human dignity — that of the convicted as well as our own — is best served by not resorting to this extreme and unnecessary punishment. Modern society has the means to protect itself without the death penalty.

The commutation to life imprisonment would serve the common good of all by helping break our society’s spiral of violence — for the “eye for an eye” mentality will just end up making us all blind.

Monday, August 1st, 2011
Posted on the website of The Archdiocese of Miami
9401 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami Shores, FL 33138

Upcoming Events:

Now I Walk on Death Row – in Florida
By: DALE S. RECINELLA, Catholic Correctional Chaplain for Florida Death Row

Tuesday August 30th

Sponsored by: Mandarin Florida Rotary Club

7:30 am: Presentation followed by book signing

The Ramada Inn
3130 Hartley Road (near I-295)
Jacksonville, FL 32257
(904) 268-8080
RSVP to Rose Marie K. Preddy or (904) 665-0005


Now I Walk on Death Row – On Radio:
DALE S. RECINELLA, Catholic Lay Chaplain for Florida Death Row

Friday Morning August 5th 8:10 am ET (live):
The Moody Morning Show
WMBI Christian Radio: Chicago

Friday Afternoon August 12th 4pm ET (live):
Divine Calling: Host: Stephanie Riggs
KRKS-FM Christian Radio: Denver

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 Monthly Ezine - You will love Dale's Book!
The Poor Clare Sisters
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 The Poor Clare Sisters of Spokane
to support the IWasInPrison Outreach