"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rare, If Not Non-Existent

So we learn that the death penalty is being resorted to even more "rarely." 78 death sentences to date in 2011 have been imposed.

While the DPIC, an abolitionist advocacy group, reporting these figures, wants to portray the drop off in the DP rate as a function of decreased support for the DP, there are many factors at work in the decline, including most prominently in my view the declining overall homicide rate. ("The homicide rate declined sharply from 9.3 homicides per 100,000 in 1992 to 4.8 homicides per 100,000 in 2010."). Broadly speaking, the fewer number of murders, the fewer expected death sentences imposed.

As far as I know, there are no reported year-to-date murder numbers officially reported, but the number in the last couple of years has been around 15,000.

If that number holds true for 2011, then the death penalty is imposed in a miniscule 0.52% of cases.

Yet again, we can truly say of the death penalty in the United States, that it is imposed "rarely" and certainly only in heinous cases and after exhaustive appellate review of not just the facts and evidence, but the competency of defense counsel. All of which should give comfort to those Catholics who accept the position of the new Cathechism of the Catholic Church that recourse to the death penalty ought to be limited to "rare" cases.

4 comments:

bill bannon said...

The death penalty is a sound bite tool which keeps the Vatican in the news media as birth control was such a headline grabber years ago.
Both topics annoy a certain percent of people and sooth a certain percent....and that is the chemistry of sound bites. Were the recent Popes deeply involved with penology, we would see an encyclical that calls for actual penance in the prisons of predominant Catholic countries like those of Latin America. Penance as opposed to a culture of hanging out and part time work with the three meals a day that the poor of Latin America cannot afford.
But there is no encyclical about penance in prisons because such an area does not attract media attention and lacks sound bite chemistry....annoy some/ sooth some.
Wiki has the two highest murder rates countries as predominant Catholic ones which have no death penalty:

El Salvador #1 worst murder rate.             79% Catholic      no dp 
Honduras #2. worst          ”          ”               97%.Catholic   no dp
Venezuela.# 4 worst            ”         ”             96%.          ”        no dp
Colombia. #7.worst               ”       ”              90%.      ”             no dp
Brazil. #19.worst.              ”.          ”              73%.             ”        no dp
Dominican Republic #20.worst “. ”               95%.         ”            no dp

What is mind boggling is that our Catholic clerical and Vatican fascination with talking theology rather than
present Catholic leavening history in the world...means that Pope Benedict can speak for death penalty abolition without having a clue as to the miserable Catholic record in the world....without the death penalty.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Well Tom, I'm glad to hear the homicide rate is declining nationally, but it's climbing rapidly in Peoria, Il., where I live. Our stupid Governor Quinn has cancelled the death penalty, and Gov. Ryan declared a moratorium on the DP a few years back. I'm convinced that climb in homicides in my area is due to the relaxing of the death penalty in Illinois. I only wish that the dp was used every time a person was convicted of murder, so we could say, Getting away with murder is rare, if non-existent.

Tom McKenna said...

Steve,
I've complained here about Illinois before, so you have my sympathy (http://seeking4justice.blogspot.com/2006/09/dp-abolitionist-hero-goes-down.html).

In my view,the natural virtue of justice, as recognized for millenia in Scripture and Sacred Tradition, would support routine execution of those who dare to take another's life.

Unfortunately, with the confused "teaching" coming from the Vatican, it is apologetically good to demonstrate that our dp jurisprudence actually conforms with the modern (penologically absurd, as Bill's reply above indicates) Catholic position.

Tom McKenna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.