Tag Archives: death penalty

I signed. Will you?

The international movement to end the death penalty grows. I signed a petition this morning from the World Coalition against the Death Penalty.

Amnesty International notes that in 2010 (the last year for which they have published records):

23 countries carried out executions and 67 imposed death sentences in 2010. Methods of execution in 2010 included beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.

Amnesty’s report “Death Sentences and Executions 2010” notes:

REPORTED EXECUTIONS IN 2010
Bahrain (1), Bangladesh (9+), Belarus (2), Botswana (1), China (1000s), Egypt (4), Equatorial Guinea (4), Iran
(252+), Iraq (1+), Japan (2), Libya (18+), Malaysia (1+), North Korea (60+), the Palestinian Authority (5),
Saudi Arabia (27+), Singapore (+), Somalia (8+), Sudan (6+), Syria (17+), Taiwan (4), United States of
America (46), Viet Nam (+), Yemen (53+).

The petition from the World Coalition against the Death Penalty states:

139 nations have already abolished the death penalty. In December 2012, the United Nations’ General Assembly will vote on a resolution calling for a worldwide halt to its use.

We, the undersigned, in recognition of the five million people who signed the moratorium petition that was handed to the United Nations’ General Assembly in 2007, promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio in collaboration with Amnesty International and other organizations all over the world, renew the call for a worldwide moratorium on sentences and executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty worldwide in the belief that this penalty is inhumane:

* Whatever the method of execution, there is no humane way to kill
* Whatever the country, death row is inhumane
* Whatever the length, awaiting death dehumanizes people sentenced to death

We welcome the strong progress already made towards a global end to capital punishment and acknowledge that 139 nations have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

For the 4th vote of the United Nations General Assembly on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, to be held in December 2012, we, the undersigned, call on all countries to support the resolution and all those which retain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on its use, with a view to abolishing this inhumane practice altogether!

I signed. Will you?

See you along the Trail.

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Moratorium in Oregon

I join Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and other groups around the country in applauding the decision of  Governor John Kitzhaber to halt the scheduled execution of Gary Haugen (scheduled for December 6 – the last execution scheduled for this year). Governor Kitzhaber also called  for a full examination of the Oregon death penalty. Reflecting on this decision, the OADP said:

Governor Kitzhaber has shown great leadership with this announcement.

The New York Times reports:

“It is time for Oregon to consider a different approach,” Governor Kitzhaber, a Democrat elected last fall, said in a news conference in Salem on Tuesday afternoon. “I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am governor.”

One of the predecessor denominations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) first went on the record against capital punishment in 1959:

. . . the 171st General Assembly, “believing that capital punishment cannot be condoned by an interpretation of the Bible based upon the revelation of God’s love in Jesus Christ,” called on Christians to “seek the redemption of evil doers and not their death” and noted that “the use of the death penalty tends to brutalize the society that condones it.”

As Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty states:

 It is our contention that when all the facts are known, it is difficult to support a death penalty. It is a failed public policy, extremely expensive, taking valuable resources from other programs that do deter violent crime. In these modern times, when we have the ability to keep violent criminals safely away from the general public, an option like life without parole makes more sense.

I grieve for Mary Archer and all who love her. Haugen was convicted of raping and beating Mary Archer to death in 1981. I grieve for David Polin and all who love him. Haugen was convicted of killing David Polin, an inmate at the Oregon State Penitentiary, in 2003. No questions of his guilt are raised and Haugen has asked to waive his legal rights and be executed.

Still, as I have written before:

I believe the death penalty is wrong. It dehumanizes our society. Repaying violence with violence does not get us anywhere; killing to demonstrate that killing is wrong makes no sense to me. It cuts off any possibility for reform or restoration. My opposition is to the state killing. It does not depend – it cannot depend on the person subject to execution.

I have prayed for the families and friends of Mary Archer and David Polin. I pray for Gary Haugen.

I have written a thank-you letter to Governor Kitzhaber.

I pray for other leaders who are in a position to make decisions and set policy about life and death.

See you along the Trail.

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It still happens in my name

Idaho is scheduled to execute Paul Rhoades tomorrow. This would be the first execution in Idaho in 17 years. It would be the fourth execution in the United States this week – a bloody week in terms of state executions.

He was convicted of the murders of school teacher Susan Michelbacher and convenience store clerks Stacy Baldwin and Nolan Haddon. There appears no question of his guilt. His petition to commute his sentence from death to life imprisonment begins, “Three people are dead because of me.”

I grieve for Susan Michelbacher, Stacy Baldwin, and Nolan Haddon. I grieve for all who love them.

Still I say, “Not in my name.” Not in my name, shall the state (any one of the United States) kill. Not in my name shall we act to prevent any possibility of reform. Not in my name shall we exact vengeance, taking an eye for an eye and stumbling blindly into the future.

But I am a citizen of this country – and while I protest – and while I write to the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole – should the execution happen, it will still happen in my  name.

See you along the Trail.

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Protesting at the margins

I grieve for Alyssa Maria Vasquez. I grieve for her mother, Diana Berlanga. I grieve for all who mourn for Alyssa. At age seven, in 1999, she was raped and strangled. The crime fills me with revulsion. Children are gifts entrusted to us from God to be cared for well. Such a violation is utterly appalling. Utterly appalling.

Guadalupe Esparza was convicted of this atrocity. According to reports on mysanantonio.com, DNA results indicate his guilt. They further report that a recent DNA test confirmed the earlier test. The State of Texas has scheduled Esparaza’s execution for tomorrow.

I have no sympathy for Esparza. I find it hard even to acknowledge that I grieve for him.

And yet – and yet – I believe the death penalty is wrong. It dehumanizes our society. Repaying violence with violence does not get us anywhere; killing to demonstrate that killing is wrong makes no sense to me. It cuts off any possibility for reform or restoration.

My opposition is to the state killing. It does not depend – it cannot depend on the individual subject to execution. It is at the margins that we are tested.It is at the margins we must protest.

I cannot affirm that “I am Troy Davis” unless I am willing to affirm that “I am Guadalupe Esparza” as much as I recoil from that idea. I cannot protest high-profile cases involving individuals with redeeming qualities and questions of innocence unless I am willing to protest cases involving unsympathetic individuals and little doubt of guilt.

So I have written to Governor Parry and to the Texas Board of Paroles.

This would mark the 42nd execution this year and the 7th since the execution of Troy Davis.

See you along the Trail.

 

 

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Execution scheduled in Florida

I grieve today for Joan “Jo” Rogers, 36, and her daughters Michelle, 17, and Christe, 14. They were visiting Tampa Bay from Ohio in 1989, when they were murdered. It was a horrific crime. They were bound, tied to concrete blocks and thrown into the water. Reports indicate that they were probably alive when they entered the water. The horror of watching the violation of your children – watching the violation of your mother – numbs my mind and makes my skin crawl. I grieve for Hal Rogers, husband and father, and all who loved the three women.

The State of Florida is scheduled to execute Oba Chandler for this crime today. It may have happened. It was scheduled for 4:00. I have not been able to find news stories to confirm that. Chandler was convicted in 1994. Chandler says he is innocent; appeals have been filed, and denied.

Heinous. Brutal. Reprehensible. These are the words that come to mind pondering this crime.

But – the state killing people to prove that killing people does not make sense. It reinforces the idea that violence is an acceptable response. It brutalizes our society. There are alternatives. We can protect ourselves by keeping people imprisoned.

See you along the Trail.

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The only way? Execution scheduled in Ohio

The State of Ohio plans to execute Reginald Brooks tonight. He stands convicted of shooting his three sons while they slept. The crime occurred in 1982.

No questions seem to appear about his guilt. There is some argument about his mental competency. Prosecutors argue that his mental illness did not cause the murders nor does it make him incompetent. From an MSNBC report:

They say he planned merciless killings, bought a revolver two weeks in advance, confirmed he’d be home alone with the boys, targeted them when they wouldn’t resist and fled on a bus with a suitcase containing a birth certificate and personal items that could help him start a new life.

I grieve for his three sons: 17-year-old Reginald Jr., 15-year-old Vaughn, and 11-year-old Niarchos. I grieve for the potential that was lost when they were murdered. I grieve for their mother, Beverly Brooks, and all who loved them.

This is a horrible crime.

And yet I wonder – does killing someone to prove that killing someone is wrong really work? Is this the only way?

See you along the trail.

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Four executions scheduled in next ten days

Until recently the next ten days were scheduled to bring five executions. One has been stayed. Four more loom.

November 15 – Reginald Brooks in Ohio (includes a petition)

November 15 – Oba Chandler in Florida

November 16 – Guadalupe Esparza in Texas

November 18 – Paul Ezra Rhoades in Idaho

More details will follow as I find them.

See you along the Trail.

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