Priest lauds temporary halt of Washington death penalty
By Kevin J. Jones
The lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison, completed in 2010. Credit: CACorrections (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) via Wikimedia.
The lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison, completed in 2010. Credit: CACorrections (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) via Wikimedia.

.- Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state has issued a moratorium or temporary prohibition on executions, drawing praise from a priest who has written against the death penalty.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Monsignor Stuart Swetland told CNA Feb. 12. “The bishops of the United States...have said that there are no conditions under which the death penalty should be used.”

“We hope for the banning of the death penalty in every state,” said Msgr. Swetland, a professor of Christian ethics at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Gov. Inslee announced the moratorium in a Feb. 15 press conference. He said the suspension will last as long as he is governor and he will issue a reprieve on any death penalty case that comes to his desk.

“There are too many flaws in the system. And when the ultimate decision is death there is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system,” he said.

Washington state has executed five prisoners since 1976. The Democratic governor outlined the reasons for his action, saying capital punishment is “unequally applied.”

Though he said there are “many good protections” in the state's death penalty law, he noted that 60 percent of death penalty sentences in Washington state have been overturned. One man was set free and 18 other convicts' sentences were converted to life in prison.

The governor said death penalty convicts are rarely executed. He noted that it costs more to prosecute a capital case than to imprison someone for life without parole. He said there is “no credible evidence” that the death penalty is a deterrent to murder. He added that the death penalty is not always applied to “the most heinous offenders.”

The decision drew criticism from some family members of crime victims.

“I think if it was his family he would perhaps feel a lot differently,” Pam Mantle, whose daughter, son-in-law and two young grandchildren were fatally shot on Christmas Day 2007, told the Seattle Times.

The governor did not commute the sentences of the nine men presently on death row.

Msgr. Swetland said that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is “quite clear” about conditions when prisoners can be incarcerated in a way that they will not threaten innocent life. “

“Not only does it state that the death penalty should not be used, but that it must not be used in those cases,” he said.

“I’d like to see this state-by-state, moving in the right direction,” said the monsignor, who is a contributor to the 2013 book “Where Mercy and Justice Meet.”

Washington state legislators do not plan to work on the death penalty during the legislature’s 2014 session, the Seattle Times reports, though some plan to advance a death penalty ban in 2015.

There are 32 U.S. states that allow capital punishment. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a moratorium similar to Washington’s in 2011.

Tags: Death Penalty

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 18, 2014

Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Is 52:13-53:12
Second Reading:: Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel:: Jn 18:1-19:42

Homily of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: