I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
May 30, 2006
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: Theology on Tap

"From International Law to Death Row: One Man's Journey"
Tuesday, June 13, 2006

"From International Law to Death Row: One Man's Journey"
Speaker: Dale S. Recinella

As part of the 2006 "Theology on Tap" Series sponsored by University of Notre Dame Alumni Club of Greater Orlando, Florida

Date: Tuesday June 13, 2006

Hospitality 6:30 pm
Talk 7:00pm
Q&A 7:30pm

Location: Loaded Hog Pub, 11 N. Orange Avenue, Downtown Orlando (just north
of Central next to Wall Street Cantina; parking at Central Avenue).

"The Week of an Execution", workshop by Dale S. Recinella

The book, "The Biblical Truth about America's Death Penalty" will be available for sale and signing.

For information, contact: Marie O'Neill, JD
Email:Marie O'Neill or visit http://www.ndorlando.com

Conjectures of a Guilty Participant
By: Dale Recinella

In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander Thomas Merton raised questions about the complicity of good people in the evils of our day. Complicity through quiet, don’t-get-involved, look-the-other-way silence in the face of bad things. I am not a bystander anymore. Today I have crossed the line.

I’ve never actually testified in a death sentence rehearing before. Fr. Joe, the Catholic priest who handled ministry rounds at Florida’s death row for fifteen years before I arrived, is also here. This is only his second time appearing in such a matter.

We join over twenty other people in the hall. A call is made for all witnesses to enter the courtroom. We are led before the elevated desk of the judge. He introduces himself and then places us all under court orders. A gag order of sorts.

We are forbidden to mention in front of the jury any thoughts or concerns we have about the defendant’s innocence. Violations will be punished with the full powers of the court.

We all know what the judge is referring to. We are forbidden to mention anything about the underlying trial, anything about the assistant state attorney trying to obtain a bribe for the judge, anything about the judge being removed from the trial in handcuffs—charged by the FBI with taking bribes in other cases. Or that the State’s star witness has never been able to pass a lie detector test, but the defendant has.

We are forbidden to mention the defendant’s shock and dismay when his own lawyer put on no defense whatsoever. Just collected a large fee and turned him over to be slaughtered.

My place on the batting order is clean up. I will be pacing in the hall until mid-afternoon.

My fingers complete the circuit of the Rosary in my pocket several times over before my name is finally called. I take my seat in the witness box. Ahead of me and to the right is the man in question. Behind him I see his wife, a devout Catholic and loyal spouse who has stood by him for the fifteen years of this nightmare. Immediately before me is the defense lawyer. And to my left is the jury, twelve good people who are here to do the right thing.

Something in me wants to stand up and cry out, “This is a travesty. You are being asked to sentence an innocent man, a victim of Miami’s 1980s legacy of official corruption so severe that it merited a Vice-Presidential task force. If you knew what I know, what the prosecutor knows and what the judge knows, you would be outraged and demand that this man be given a fair trial.”

From somewhere else inside reason intrudes. That would accomplish nothing. This jury would be sent home and a new hearing commenced with a new jury while I’m sitting in jail for contempt and my law license is being revoked. It would do nothing to help this man. It could even hurt his chances for a life sentence. I keep my tongue and testify in accord with the gag order.

The jury returns with a life sentence. I am relieved. I also take comfort in rumors that the jury asked the judge for a copy of the trial testimony of the State’s key witness. The request was denied. But such an unusual step indicates that some on the jury realized this man is innocent. Perhaps there was even a discussion of refusing to sentence him at all.

As I hit the turnpike heading home to north Florida, I realize that I will never quiet the doubts inside me.

Was my silence about the truth really for his best interest? Or was it cowardice? The questions will always be there. Despite my best intentions, I have become a guilty participant in the injustice.

First published: The Florida Catholic, April 25, 2002
© 2002 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 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.

Read more reviews

This ezine edited by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC - Poor Clare Sister
to support the IWasInPrison Outreach