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Pope Francis declares death penalty never a morally admissible punishment

Speaking during a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis drew a sharp focus on the need for an updated understanding of the church’s teaching on the death penalty.

ABC News reported:

During an anniversary ceremony at the Vatican, Francis repeated his insistence that capital punishment is “inadmissible” under any circumstance. He said the death penalty violates the Gospel and amounts to the voluntary killing of a human life, which “is always sacred in the eyes of the creator.”

According to a Catholic News Agency report, the Holy Father stressed

that God is a Father “who always waits for the return of the son who, knowing he has erred, asks forgiveness and begins a new life.”

“No one, therefore, can have their life taken from them, nor the possibility of a moral and existential redemption that goes back in favor of the community.”

All news accounts are making it clear that Pope Francis is teaching that “It’s necessary to repeat that no matter how serious the crime, the death penalty is inadmissible because it attacks the inviolable dignity of the person.”

After St. John Paul II’s homily on January 27, 1999 in St. Louis offering a new understanding of the use of the death penalty, the Catechism was updated to reflect this new teaching. It is reasonable to conclude that the Catechism of the Catholic Church may soon undergo another revision in this area to reflect that the death penalty is never a moral option and should be abolished.

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Ray Krone to visit Kentucky; tell of his ordeal as an innocent man on death row

1.800.372.7181

We know everyone reading this post is troubled by the fact that because we have the means to sentence someone to death, we will certainly end up sentencing the wrong person, a person who is innocent. Because this troubles you, and it should, don’t wait; pick up your phone and call the number above and let your Kentucky state lawmakers know it is time to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky before we sentence another innocent defendant to death, as we did in the case of Larry Osborne.

Ray Krone

We are happy to present another WITNESS TO INNOCENCE tour, bringing to Kentucky one of the 159 defendants exonerated since the death penalty became law again in 1976. We are thankful that one of our prime partners, the ACLU of Kentucky, funds and organizes these events.

This time we welcome Ray Krone. Ray has visited before and his story is amazing: suffering abuse by the state of Arizona and spending three years on death row, seven more in prison before finally being released because he was the wrong man. Fortunately, the right man is still in prison after copping a plea and not getting the death penalty.

Here’s where you can go to hear Ray tell his story and learn more about why we need to end the death penalty in Kentucky.

PIKEVILLE – 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, Sep 26 – in the Chrisman Auditorium of the Armington Learning Center

LONDON – 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, Sep 27 – North London Campus of the Somerset Community and Technical College, 100 University Drive, Health Science Building, Room 113

GRAYSON – 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sep 28 – at the public library, 116 W. Main St.

We promise you an exhilarating hour or two listening to Ray and engaging in conversation. Grab a friend or two, or even a state legislator, and come out for this event.

And don’t forget, let your Kentucky lawmakers know, it is time to abolish the death penalty to be sure we don’t ever sentence another innocent person to death in Kentucky.

1.800.372.7181

Photo: Pat Delahanty

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New Book to Help Attorneys Argue Death Penalty Cases Edited by Kentucky’s Public Advocate

James Clark

Ed Monahan

Kentucky Public Advocate Ed Monahan and Dean of the Florida State University College of Social Work James Clark have teamed up and edited a new book to help clients receive top-notch representation from those representing them. According to the publisher, the American Bar Association, Tell the Client’s Story: Mitigation in Criminal and Death Penalty Cases ‘”provides litigation teams the best strategies for effective mitigation work in criminal and capital cases. Top mitigation experts from across the nation with demonstrated practice wisdom will help readers to successfully litigate complex criminal cases.”

It comes highly recommended by Sr. Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents. She writes,

Sentencing a human being to death imitates the violence such an act claims to abhor. Allowing our government to kill citizens compromises the deepest moral values upon which this country was conceived: the inviolable dignity of all human persons. I am not an attorney but I know good lawyering when I see it. The good news is that Tell the Client’s Story is the Bible of good lawyering for capital clients. If you are on a criminal defense team, I pray that you study this testament that reveals the innate humanity of capital clients and our connectedness to them as fellow human beings, and that you use the wisdom it communicates. Thank you, Defenders, for your ministry of mercy.

Notable trial attorney Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, writes,

This new book is an essential guide to help 21st Century criminal defense lawyers learn a skill that is just as important as mastering the rules of evidence, effective cross-examination or persuasive summation. Well organized, well written and thoughtfully presented, this terrific book should be read and at the ready in every effective criminal defense lawyer’s library.

Here is a link to a review of the book by Daniel T. Goyette who is the chief public defender and the executive director of the Louisville-Jefferson County Public Defender Corp. He was the 1997 recipient of the ABA’s Dorsey Award.

Click on the book’s title, Tell the Client’s Storyto purchase a copy.

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Fayette Circuit Court Judge Declares Death Penalty Unconstitutional for Persons Under 21

Fayette Commonwealth Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn

Judge Ernesto Scorsone has ruled in the case of Travis Bredhold that the Fayette County Commonwealth Attorney may not seek the death penalty because Bredhold was under the age of 21 when the crime for which he is charged took place. In Roper the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that persons under the age of 18 could not be executed. This decision applies only in Kentucky and extends that time period by several years.  Prosecutor Lou Anna Red Corn plans to appeal the decision.

Over the years a culture of death was created in the Fayette Circuit under former Commonwealth Attorney Ray Larson who said that those sentenced to death should be slain in the same way they committed their crimes. In Kentucky all the death sentences have come from very few of the 120 counties. When taking into account its population, Fayette County is Kentucky’s leader in seeking death. Fortunately, even jurors who have told the court they are willing to impose the death penalty have failed to do so for the past several years.

It appears that Fayette County jurors, like most Kentuckians, prefer long prison sentences, including life without parole, as the effective and less costly means of punishing violent killers. That should cause Lexington residents and taxpayers to ask why the Commonwealth Attorney’s office continues to ask juries to impose death, especially in cases where those charged are similar in age to Bredhold.

Below are links to news reports about this decision.

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A New Book About Movement Heroine: Marie Deans, A Courageous Fool

I don’t recall when I first met Marie Deans, but it was many years ago, late ’80s, early 90s, at some national death penalty meeting on the east coast. She spoke about her mother-in-law’s murder and her own opposition to putting her killer to death.

Hers was an amazing testimony for someone who had never heard this message from a victim family member. Marie founded what is now known as Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation and continued to work with prisoners. She was key in obtaining an exoneration for Earl Washington, wrongfully convicted and placed on death row.

Colman McCarthy writes in her obituary in The Washington Post:

Asked once why she involved herself in a field that attracts so few, Mrs. Deans replied: “I have the need to understand why we are so good at passing on violence and so poor at passing on love.”

This new book tells her whole story and deserves wide readership. Perhaps those who still think killing killers is the answer that brings justice to society and comfort to victims can learn from Marie that there is another way, “passing on love.” Click on the book jacket photo for more information about purchasing it.

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