Greenbelt Interfaith News
    U.S. Brief

    November 1997

    Catholic Bishops in Texas Call for End to Executions
    Catholic World News

    Texas' 21 Catholic bishops issued a statement on October 21 calling for an end to capital punishment in the state which has the national leader in executing criminals. While the bishops said they sympathize with the pain suffered by the victims of brutal crimes and their families, they "believe that the compassionate examples of Christ calls us to respect the God-given image found even in hardened criminals." The statement added that the state was "usurping the sovereign dominion of God over human life" and that such activity could be contributing to an escalating climate of violence rather than deterring crime. The bishops also said the punishment does not make economic sense. "In the state of Texas, it costs $2.3 million on average to prosecute and execute each capital case as compared to $400,000 for life imprisonment," they said.

    Texas has executed 31 men in 1997 out of a nationwide total 59, and five more are scheduled to die by lethal injection this year, setting a record for the state. Since the US Supreme Court ended a moratorium on capital punishment in 1976, 417 have been executed in the US, including 138 in Texas. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court warned Texas officials that rules preventing convicted killers from telling juries of the real potential for parole are in conflict with court rulings.

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    This article was republished with permission.