"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

Thursday, May 02, 2013

On May 1, Ohio executed Steve Smith for rape and murder... of his girlfriend's six month old baby. "The baby was covered in bruises and welts and had severe injuries showing she had been brutally raped...." Smith's guilt was not at issue; he does not contend he did not do the crime. 

Smith was apparently a model inmate, and to outward appearances contrite for his crime (although denying
responsibility to the extent that he claimed intoxication as a reason for his crime).

Smith's attorney voiced what might be the position of certain Catholics influenced by the teaching in recent years which appears to state that only those who continue to be a threat to society should be executed, if even those:
[Smith] was well-behaved and sober while in prison, causing no problems in the institution and living each day with the guilt and grief caused by his alcohol-fueled crime,” said Wilhelm, who also witnessed the execution. “While some may trumpet his execution as appropriate revenge for his crime, Ohio is no safer having executed Steven Smith than had he lived the remainder of his natural life in prison.
Maybe it is true that Smith would have spent the rest of his life in prison;  maybe he would never be pardoned and released;  maybe he would never get the parole that is possible in Ohio.  Maybe he would never escape;  maybe he would never assault or kill a guard or a fellow-prisoner, despite having proven that he's capable of murderous violence.

And yet... there are crimes for which not even sitting peacefully in prison for life seems to be adequate to address the violation of society and the individual victim;  for which society must proclaim by action that the crime is above and beyond a garden variety robbery or rape, for which one could also be sent to prison for life.

This intuition that some crimes are so heinous that nothing will seem to give "congruent satisfaction" to a society violated and disrupted by the crime; that there ought to be a punishment fitted to the crime to the extent that can be accomplished-- this intuition is nothing other than the natural virtue of Justice.

The Church has always recognized the State's right to execute this Justice on offenders, indeed, it is one of the fundamental and first duties of civil government. 

No collection of national bishops, no ambiguous document, can overturn the natural law and 2,000 years of Church teaching about such an important issue of morality.  If the Church could have been wrong about societies being authorized to use capital punishment to advance the virtue of Justice, then the Church would have failed in Her mission to reliably teach mankind about morality.

Swedes Crack Down on Prostitution

In an interesting twist, Sweden reduces prostitution problem not by criminalizing the hooker, but by criminalizing only the johns. Traditionally the solicitation for sex for money is criminalized, which subjects the prostitute herself to arrest.  While the customer can, and often is, arrested, the focus in the US has been to target the prostitutes.

Sweden has turned that equation around with some success, as the fear of arrest has reduced the demand for paid sex:

the number of women in street prostitution in Stockholm has declined. Where 70 or 80 women used to sell sex outdoors, these days it's between five and 10 in winter, 25 in summer. A small number of women work on the streets of Malmö and Gothenburg but the Swedish figures are nothing like those for Denmark, where prostitution has been decriminalised. Denmark has just over half the population of Sweden but one study suggested there were more than 1,400 women selling sex on Danish streets.
And despite predictions that the law would be both unpopular and tend to increase violence against hookers, the Swedes have found that 70% of the populace supports the new law, and the hookers have found that customers in Sweden are more behaved, no doubt because of the fear of being arrested if the hooker complains to police.