||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
Florida Catholic Bishops’ Campaign against the Death Penalty
Dale S. Recinella and Dr. Susan M. Recinella are the featured speakers in this program on the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty in America. The Bishops of Florida have approved this series of presentations to educate Catholics and interested others about Church teaching on the death penalty. Attendance by catechists, educators, Respect Life coordinators, and Peace and Justice Committee members is particularly encouraged. The program will be offered in every diocese in Florida during 2007.
Archdiocese of Miami
Miami, FL – Saturday February 3, 2007
10:00am – 1:00pm
Archbishop Edward McCarthy Pastoral Center
9401 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138
For information: Deacon Edgardo Farias, Director
Office of Detention Ministry, Archdiocese of Miami
Office (305) 762-1093 or Cell (786) 346-3889 or Edgardo@miamiarch.org or
Sheila Hopkins (Florida Catholic Conference): (850) 205-6826 or firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Notre Dame
“The Death Penalty Leaves No Survivors”
Dale S. Recinella
Sponsored by: ND-ASK [ND Against State Killing]
February 14, 2007
For details contact: Will McAuliffe (315) 559-7010 or email@example.com
Systemic Evil: The System Made Me Do It
By: Dale Recinella
I’m told Thomas Merton coined the phrase that names a major battle in living our Catholic faith amidst the culture of death. The term is “systemic evil.”
Systemic evil identifies a complex system in which each small activity can seem meritorious, even virtuous. Yet, the output of the system, the product of connecting the individual actions together, is evil.
A moral pitfall of systemic evil is that each participant feels that his or her portion of the process is good. Each worker and professional in the system does a good and responsible job. Filing is done well; lawyers fight hard to win, etc. Participants can even feel morally righteous.
In reality, however, each link in the chain is part of the process that produces the evil. If the participants never look at what they are producing, if they each limit their vision to only their little piece, they never feel responsible for the evil outcome. The evil is blamed on the system—as though the system has a soul and a free will independent of the people who animate it.
Perhaps this is the greatest horror of systemic evil. The group feels no corporate responsibility. Individuals feel no personal responsibility. Evil is spewed into the world but no one apologizes or repents. Instead the very people who unleashed the destruction are applying for promotions, running for political office and accepting awards for a job well done.
As a Catholic Christian I cannot imagine a greater systemic evil in a modern free democracy than a system that inexorably grinds toward the premeditated murder by government of its innocent citizens. Euthanasia does this. So does our death penalty system in Florida and in America.
Through news reports and books I am personally aware of the following situations in Florida that have come to light in the last six months.
A black man languished for over 14 years and finally died on death row because the State fought against DNA testing. Posthumous testing proved his innocence. No attorney who fought the testing took any responsibility.
Also, the State hid crucial evidence that could have convinced a jury of a defendant’s innocence. In another case the State avoided allowing a government employee to testify, hiding the witness and his statements from defense counsel because it would hurt the State’s case. In yet another case, the prosecutor misled the judge and jury on critical facts to improve the State’ chances of gaining a conviction. (1) In still another case an assistant State attorney solicited a bribe for the judge from the defendant in his jail cell. (2)
Then there is an egregious case where the government’s own chief of police wrote a report that contained hard facts which established that the accused could not have done what the State claimed. This was discovered before the grand jury met. The prosecutors declared the police chief a “confidential informant” so he couldn’t be questioned on the information, buried the full police report until 11 years after the trial, used a shortened police report for the grand jury and the trial, and elicited sworn testimony--from the same police chief—that contradicted his original sworn police report. The man in that case has been on Florida’s death row for 25 years and the State is still fighting DNA testing.(3)
In all these cases and many more like them, no one is apologizing or even admitting fault. Instead the State is fighting to execute these men without new trials. Is this really about justice or are personal egos and careers at stake? When does using a system to kill people who might be innocent become murder?
(1) In this case, the man was granted a rare new trial. On appeal by the state, the U.S. Court of Appeals took away the new trial because, even if the prosecutor lied, too much time had passed and the judge should not have considered it. The state is pushing forward for his execution.
(2) He was resentenced to natural life in prison and is fighting to show that he is a victim of fraudulent collusion by drug dealers and police. All the new evidence of his claims, including a major media investigation that puts the camera on the possible perpetrator of the murder, has been held to be procedurally barred—it’s too late and no court can hear it.
(3) Court ordered DNA testing came back in favor of the man on death row. The state immediately began arguing that the DNA test results are irrelevant.
First published: The Florida Catholic, July 26, 2001
© 2001 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 sha#3333FF 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