Vigil, a former district attorney's investigator, thinks the death penalty is a useful tool. In a 2007 case, Jose Luis Rubi-Nava confessed to killing his girlfriend in Douglas County by dragging her behind his car. The threat of the death penalty secured Rubi-Nava's plea, Vigil said."As soon as the death penalty became part of the equation, he pled guilty and got a life sentence," he said.But Vigil also was thinking about moral appeals he had heard, including from Archbishop Charles Chaput, the senior Roman Catholic clergyman in Colorado.Oh how wonderful! I hope Abp. Chaput, comfy and safe in his Episcopal lodgings, doesn't read the papers or doesn't have friends or family living in a less safe environment than his. If he read the Denver Post for example, he might find this intriguing statement demonstrating that imprisonment does not always protect victims from violent predators (thereby rendering capital punishment a morally legitimate punishment):
Attorney General John Suthers and district attorneys say the death penalty is key to discouraging the worst crimes. The threat of death is the only deterrent left for inmates sentenced to life in prison who might kill a guard or another inmate, Suthers said.
"If you don't have a death penalty, those are free murders," Suthers said. "There remains some crimes, some murders, that anything short of the death penalty is an inadequate societal response."
But the Archbishop doesn't have to work in a prison and interact with murderers who have absolutely no incentive not to attack or kill him. Or as a police officer trying to apprehend an escaped murderer. Or as a hospital worker tending to an incarcerated robber. Or perhaps he doesn't enjoy hiking, and so won't have to worry about a paroled murderer shooting him. But perhaps his Grace would like to put himself into the shoes of the least among us, and imagine himself an inmate in prison, accused by his cellmate of stealing the cellmate's breakfast, and then strangled to death for protesting his innocence.
Or Chaput might have bothered to look at just what kind of offenders receive a death sentence in Colorado and gotten back with us on how any of their cases do not reasonably reflect a judgment that incarceration would be insufficient to "render one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm." Unless it's now the American hierachy's position that their judgment on this issue of rendering offenders incapable of harm should be substituted in particular cases for that of the jury's, the trial court, and the appellate courts, who presumably know much more about the facts of the case and the background of the offender.
After all, isn't this the same Abp. Chaput who stated "in Catholic thought, war and capital punishment can be morally legitimate under certain carefully defined circumstances"?
I suppose when the media sing your praises on an issue, "Catholic thought," the Catechism, and common sense are optional.