The reasons why these Kentucky citizens want to abolish the death penalty are as diverse as their backgrounds.
Sister Chris Beckett, SCN
For over 40 years I have been active in prison issues and ministries, including my years of service as a volunteer chaplain on Kentucky’s death row. As I walked with those on death row, their families, and met victims, my conviction that the death penalty is immoral only increased.
Now as an administrator in a Catholic all-girls high school in Louisville I am asked to speak and share on the prison system and the death penalty with our students and at other schools and organizations. I will work untiringly for the abolition of the death penalty in this state, our country, and the world.
That the death penalty is applied in a discriminatory, racist manner is not an opinion. It is born out of empirical data. That many innocent people have been sentenced to death and some have been executed is not an opinion. This statement is also a product of historical data. For a country which purports to believe in the concept of “justice for all”, capital punishment stands as an irrefutable abomination of that vision. These facts and sentiment represent the basis for my absolute and unwavering opposition to the death penalty in the United States and my pledge to work toward its abolition.
The use of the death penalty by the state is an action permitted only because we have agreed to its use. We give the state permission to kill in our names. When I ask, “When may I kill?” I find no answer to justify the killing that takes place by the state. I believe we respect human life by standing against a policy that allows the killing of another person. I don’t want that blood on my hands. So I work to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky.
Abolishing the death penalty is a no-brainer. It doesn’t deter crime. It costs more than life in prison without parole. It’s not applied fairly. Unlike other sentences, if carried out, it can’t be overturned if the legal system makes a mistake. And there’s no greater example of big government.
The death penalty can never be applied fairly. Most convicted of a capital crime do not have the resources for a private lawyer and end up getting death. There is a statement: “If you don’t have the capital, you are going to get the punishment” that seems to be true.
My brother was murdered in 1986 by a man who randomly killed four people one afternoon. The murderer was executed in 1997, and that was when I fully realized that the death penalty represented the worst of humanity. It also marked the beginning of my active involvement in the movement to abolish it.
The death penalty was not on my radar for most of my life. When my interests in faith and social justice came together, I took another look. All I had to do was scratch the surface to realize the many disturbing problems with the death penalty and knew I had to act.
My brother-in-law was a state trooper shot and killed in the line of duty. I oppose the death penalty ooded revenge killing of a person under our control. I have experienced too many men change for the better or be declared innocent after long terms on death row.