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Hello dean,
My name is Basil and I live in London in the U.K. I have never spent any time in prison and so have an intregue for those who are on the inside looking outwards. Your captivity is the worst I can think of, I would describe it as a form of torture actualy and certainly not acceptable at all in my mind. I want to thank you for providing me this opportunity to see through your eyes to some extent, to gain a valuable inside point of view into your world. 
It may interest you to know that our media do actualy take a hard line against the morality of the USA in many ways and do not simply see it as a wonderful country where everyone can realise thier dream and live in freedom forever! America is pissing everyone off man, your government right now are being seen as real idiotic thugs who dont give a damn at all for human kind and who only care about business as usual, and it usualy invloves terrorism on thier part, no matter how they choose to dress it up in the name of God. 
The question this raises is what kind of chance do you guys have when your own government are killing whoever they like whenever they like just to let Americans fill thier gas tanks and to let them fill their pockets a little bit more as they take over the world bit by little bit? 
To be honest , when I started to read your columns I knew I would probably end up being a little shocked by some of the things you write but I didnt expect to be shocked by such small things that I know are big for you like . . .  your bed being a metal plate with 1.5" padding? What kind of padding are we talking about here? I am a large man and can imagine that this alone would drive me nuts. How do you cope with the bed thing? Can you soften it up at all? And also , if you do run out of toilet roll, what do you do if you have no cool guard? Would you just shit and hold your cheeks wide open ? Surely it is in their interests to give you the roll or the smell would get far to bad even for them ? And the meals you mentioned. They give you breakfast and supper? sop this is somthing in the morning and somthing at the night. So all day you get nothing apart from the little bag at lunch? I was thinking about your mystery meat, do you think its possibly human flesh? After all they cook enough of them. 
Best regards,

Dear Dean,
I have been reading your articles and first would like to thank you for your interesting and enlightening articles. Number 38 is so true, you see my son is currently in prison. The first time he went he stood in for almost 2 years, when he was paroled he was put in a halfway house and stayed there for 5 months but was back to taking drugs within two months. He was so bad in need of drugs he rob another bank. They really didn't help my son just put him back into the same environment and he was back to his old ways. I live in NY and he lived in Utah. I heard he is being transferred to California but am not to sure. My son has since he was 13 into taking drugs. My husband and I tried our best to get help for him. So when he decided to move to Utah when he was 18 I thought he would do better after all he was going to a Mormon State and it would give him a second chance, little did I know the drugs was just as easy to get there as here. I went out to Utah and tried to get him help but because lack of insurance there was not much available I wish I could have put him into a rehab that he would have to stay in for 18 months. But it was too expensive. I haven't heard from my son in over 2 months now because I am not able to take collect calls. I just hope he is OK 
Well thanks for listening and thank you again. I do wish you all the best in your appeal. Keep on doing a great job. 

my name is susen and a lot of people dont deserve to be released into the community i can honestly say i have been there not quiet death row but i was instutionalised for 18 months due to my parents passing away yeah i got into shit cos i had no guidence and thought i was untouchable at 15 but that was my choice since then i work with severe disabled people i read all the murders and im discusted to see such a high rate of murder in the states 
i wonder when the US will realise the guns might be the cause we only have a very small problem with the underground guns very very rare we will hear of a drive by shooting like the US ( Guns are Illeagle in Australia) 
anyway the point is i made the choice what i wanted out of life and i did it i know things dont always go to plan and sometimes things get out of hand and befor ya know it ya stabbed someone cos you made a quick move and didnt think but overall its a decision that needs to be payed for and i dont think that people on death row deserve another meal, i would make the penalty within a week or their deaths to save the money on food  . . .  for poeple that deserve it.

Hello Susan, 
what would you say to the over 100 people who have been released from Death Row after serving from 10 to 25 years? I guess you would think it was okay because you didn't have to feed innocent people for that time then. Is that right? Maybe you need to think your theory through a little bit more. 
Take care,

Execution of Child offenders: Facts and Figures 

Between 1990 and 2003 34 executions against child offenders have been carried out around the world. China (1), Democratic Republic of Congo (1), Iran (7), Nigeria (1), Pakistan (3), Saudi Arabia (1) Yemen (1) and the USA(19).

Since 2000 there have been 14 executions: China (1), Democratic republic of Congo (1), Iran (2) Pakistan (1) and the USA (9). 

Child offenders are currently under sentence of death in at least two other countries: The Philippines and Sudan. 

Since the beginning of 1994 at least five countries have changes their laws to eliminate the execution of child offenders: Barbados, Yemen, Zimbabwe, China and Pakistan. The Democratic Republic of Congo has abolished the special military courts which led to the execution of a child offender in 2000. Iran is considering legislation to abolish the death penalty for child offenders. 

In the USA, 17 of the 38 states whose laws retain the death penalty exclude its use against child offenders as well as the federal government. Only three states: Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia -- have executed child offenders since 2000. 

13 of the 22 executions of child offenders in the USA were carried out in Texas alone. 

Three more executions of child offenders are scheduled for the first half of 2004. 

There have been sporadic executions in China, Iran and Pakistan and child offenders are under sentence of death in the Philippines and Sudan but the USA is the only country in the world that still regularly executes child offenders. 

The execution of child offenders violates international and regional human rights standards. 

Child offenders have a great potential for eventual successful reintegration into society. Execution is the ultimate denial of this principle. 

Children represent one of the most vulnerable groups of society and must be better protected by both governments and the community.


From January 2004 to end of 2005 Amnesty International is launching a large action to stop death sentences and executions against child offenders ! 
Do not hesitate to act and sign the petition on www.amnesty.org 

I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading your columms they really helped me to understand what i have believed all my live that the death penility is very unjust i think the only reason for it is so that tax payers wont have to spend as much money because if they didnt kill people the prisons would be very full but i think that the price we pay for deciding someone death is much higher i believe that it is gods choice when someone is to die but people try to take things like that in there on hands but i also believe if someone commits a crime they should have to pay the price but not with there life I love this coutry but sometimes i am ashamed of the people that allow this to continue I wish you all the luck and i know that god is with you.

I just got your message and I agree with you except the taxpayers end up paying more to execute someone than they do to keep them in prison for the rest of their lives. 
So the death penalty actually costs the taxpayers a lot more than keeping someone in prison for the rest of their life. 
Take care,

wow. ummm. 
 am currently learning about the death penalty. I personally think that people in prison have it way too easy, but that's just me. I think that if you're charged with a crime & there's enough evidence to support that you are in fact guilty, you deserve everything coming your way. Yeah I realize that is a little harsh, but probably nothing compared to the crime you've committed. I've watched people on t.v, claiming to be innocent, that extremely angers me to know that criminals have the audacity to commit a crime & then lie. 
To me, it's pretty sad that they're such cowards who cannot accept the consequences of their actions. When I grow up, I would like to become a U.S Marshall, or a lawmaker of some sort, God help the people living on death row when I come into power, cause' I am a firm believer of an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth & by the way I stand strong when it comes to the dp. Also, when I become someone, there will be no such thing as cable T.V., judiciary books, etc. You are sent to prison as a punishment, not a reward-all of that free stuff. 
I'll tell you something, life is just a bowl of pork chops compared to what it's going to be like once I hold the gold. You know what they say, "She who holds the gold makes the rules." I don't believe in sitting in a cell waiting to die, if you're on Death Row, the longest you'll be there is a week. They spend way too much money on prisoners-Building prisons, books, etc.-injections & all of that. Taking a gun to someone's head shouldn't cost anything but the bullets, that's how it's gonna be in the future. 
After all, prisoners should be thanking me for having such generosity for not putting them through the torture & bloodshed their victims suffered through, especially rapists, they better really really thank God I don't have any say right now . . . needless to say, they would be begging someone to shoot them. I hope that people will chill out a bit, cause now, if STD'S & AIDS don't destroy . . everything, the humans will. I recently saw a movie called 28 Days Later, boy was that reality.

I got your message and I think you must be an American, because you are very judgemental without knowing what you are talking about. Have you ever been in a prison? Or how do you come to the conclusions that you do?You say it angers you to see criminals commit a crime and then lie. Does it anger you to see all the innocent people who have been sent to death row and released because the prosecutors lied then? I doubt it, as you seem to be locked into a narrow line of thought and i suspect your wind isn't that flexible. It is obvious from what you say that you don't have any idea of what you are talking about. 
It is also interesting how you use the name of God to justify your thoughts and prejudices. Isn't that the same thing the Muslim terrorists do? So what makes you any different from that, in your attitudes and beliefs? 
You mention a movie. Life isn't a movie, so maybe you should learn the difference between movies and reality. 
I don't wish anything bad on you, but maybe your karma will have a prison stay for you in your future and you will be able to see 1st hand how misinformed you are and maybe you will learn a little. Good luck to you.

Hey Dean,
I happened upon your site years ago, while researching Alcatraz, and your site was attached to the search engine I was using. I took the time to read what you had to say, and continue to check regularly for your latest article.
Today, I read your latest, about family/friend visitation, and it made me "think", about how much people take for granted. The events celebrated by familys, like birthdays, Christmas or Easter, are looked upon as a "given", and we seldom pause to think about how we would handle the situation, should for some reason, our ability to "be" with those people to whom we have a connection, was suddenly taken away from us. To many, I'm sure it would be devastating. Again, the thoughts of not being able to spend time with loved ones, or the denial of even being granted the freedom to pick up the phone and say "hi" to a relative or friend, to most of us, is unimagineable !! Everyone with any level of intelligence is aware of how vital a supportive network is, and the fact that the CDC continues to decrease the allowable time for inmates to have visitation, is incomprehensible to me.
Please keep writing your articles,


Here is a paper (click here) written by Gemma,a student who wrote a very interesting report regarding the death penalty and influences on it in the USA. 
I suspect you will find it interesting and informative as well.
Thanks Gemma.

I have not had the internet for long, so today was the 1st that i found your column. Very informative.
I am in the 20 % that would like to see the death penalty abolished. I only got to read 9 of your columns so far, but have learned a lot and intend to soon read the rest.
It is jan 31, 2004. I have been against it since I can remember and my religious beliefs only strenthen that.
No questions until I read everything, but, if anyone there cares, or believes, I pray for you and if not just know not everyone believes the media.
I would like to see a day that zero innocent people go to prison, that conditions are humane, and that ties to friends and family are truly supported.
Thank you for your efforts.

I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading your columms they really helped me to understand what i have believed all my live that the death penility is very unjust I think the only reason for it is so that tax payers wont have to spend as much money because if they didnt kill people the prisons would be very full but I think that the price we pay for deciding someone death is much higher.
I believe that it is Gods choice when someone is to die but people try to take things like that in there on hands but I also believe if someone commits a crime they should have to pay the price but not with there life.
I love this coutry but sometimes i am ashamed of the people that allow this to continue.
I wish you all the luck and i know that god is with you.

I just got your message and thank you for writing.
One thing you mentioned is about the cost. It is more expensive to execute someone than to keep them in prison for the rest of their life.
Also, they don't execute enough people for it to effect the prison overcrowding.
I think the reasons for the death penalty is more varied though. Most of it is because of politics I think.
Thanks for writing and take care,

Dear Dean,
living in Germany, it is quite difficult to imagine, what this whole "Death-Penalty-Thing" is all about, and I'm very glad, we abolished this medieval form of punishment long time ago.
Anyway, I think criminals have to be punished fairly. But, what is a fair punishment, for someone like Tim McVeigh (let's assume, he was guilty in the Oklahoma Bombing Case) who is responsible for the death of hundreds? Kill him? LWOP? To be honest, I tend to some kind of modified LWOP. Please don't get me wrong, we are talking about criminals, people who commited a capital crime, not (!) people that are imprisoned innocent. So, killing them would be a final action, but on one hand that makes the society that kills them to murderers, too and second, is irreversible what makes it even more inacceptable. I don't think, that people like McVeigh can be safely resocialized (though it's certainly tough to decide that from case to case). I'm sure you agree with me, that imprisoning criminals for the rest of their lives costs a huge amount of money (from that point of view, imprisoning them for 15 years or so and killing them then also doesn't sound too reasonable, but DP is no option at all, so this discussion is vain =:) ), but that's the point, where "my" modification comes into play: LWOP combined with (if necessary forced) labor. Let criminals earn at least part of the costs they produce and in addition, with the money they earn, improve their living conditions. How far these improvements go, depends on their own productivity.
There is only one negative aspect: If someone somehow manages to escape, than we have a problem . . . so this has to be avoided under any circumstance, but I think a nation that sends men to the moon and takes every effort to do so on Mars, should be able to guard its prisoners.
Take care,

Hello Peter,
Too bad you canít vote here in the States. It sounds like you have a better perspective than a lot of Americans.
Take care,

People should not be sentenced to death. As you say many people have been proven innocent after their death, especially now with forensic technology being as advanced as it is, people are getting out of prison on forensic evidence alone. 
I think that a lengthy prison sentence and some rehabilitation is all that is needed. After all the taking of a life is a crime, so when the jury or judge apply the death penalty on a criminal, then is this not murder also? Itís a question that I suppose has been asked a million times or more. Also where do they draw the line at murder?
It seems (in England anyway) ok to murder a guy but when women and children are murdered , then it is hyped up. As I said before a murder is a murder, a life is a life whatever the gender or age of the victim. 
As you know we do not have the death penalty here in the U.K.. For a lot of people this is a problem, they are blinkered or not well informed. I donít know if you are familiar with the Harold Shipman case in the U.K.. He was a doctor and is said to have murdered a possible 200 Ė 300 people of both gendere. He was sentenced to life in prison. 
The country pleaded with government to bring back hanging for this guy. Surely if you bring back hanging for one, then it would have to be brought back for everyone. Anyway he was found in his cell the other day, he had hanged himself. The people who said that he should have hung, are now saying that he is a coward for hanging himself. I donít understand some people first of all they want him to hang and then when he hung himself they say that it is not fair, and that the prison officers should have been watching over him 24-7 so as this would not happen. The mind boggles ! ! !.

Hello Glynn, 
How are you doing? I just got your message and I thought you made some good points. What you say about Shipman (yes I've heard about him) is typical of the conservatives. They want things both ways. It seems they only look for negative things and want to criticize everything and everyone, unless it is someone with pinhead thinking like they have.
I tend to agree with what you have to say, but American's wouldn't go for just prison terms and rehabilitation, because, I think, they have been brainwashed into thinking the death penalty is okay, or have a 'lock them up and throw the key away' mentality for other sentences.
I guess that's what happens when people are too lazy to think for themselves. Kind of a lemming mentality.
Thanks for writing.
Take care,

Hey, Dean.
My name is Shirley and I have read all of your columns, and the description of your everyday life is unbelievable. 
I have recently become interested in the Death Penalty and how many people who have been exonerated due to DNA and other things. It makes me wonder how many of you guys on Death Row are ACTUALLY innocent. It drives me crazy to think that we have been putting people who didn't have anything to do with the crime or even if they had something, is it TOTALLY necessary to send them to Death Row? 
I come from a family who is a victim of violence, so at first I wanted the guys that killed my brother hung by their toes and beaten. But as the years have past, it is a cruel thing to even think about wanting someone dead. It will not bring my brother back, but I will state that I do not want to see the guys out of jail that killed my brother. They are NOT innocent but the people that ARE innocent and on death row have been growing increasingly over the years. 
It also bothers me that the System isn't for some of you guys and I use to believe in the system because of the job I held with a law firm (no longer have).

I am mostly aggravated by some of the letters that I read which were sent to you. I do not feel that anyone deserves to be sentenced to death. I also feel that everyone is worthy of another chance. I would not mind my tax dollars going towards making yours and other people in your situation more comfortable. 
I know that many people would be sickened to hear that, but I am not forgetting the victims, I am just disgusted to see anyone hurt. I don't believe in that type of punishment. 
I think America would be better off rehabilitating rather than punishing and killing. I do believe that not all people would take the opportunity to be rehabilitated, but it I believe the steps towards it would make the outcome of society a much better reality than we have now. If my money went towards your cable t.v. and an extra pair of socks I would feel very much more faith in the criminal justice system. If you are sentenced to death the least we should do is make your last years more comfortable. 
The death penalty is a disgusting and gruesome fate. I am sickened by the thought of it. I do understand that in a majority of death penalty cases a person has already died because of the person being charged but I don't understand the insanity that drives people to support the death of another human being. It is a very permanent punishment and it does not make society any better.


Hey Dean,
I have written a book on the US prison system, "Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons" (ISBN 0131 427911) which came out a few weeks ago. 
The publisher is Financial Times Prentice Hall. It already has some very positive reviews. Sen. Edward Kennedy calls it "a wake up call for federal, state and local governments across America." The former Republican leader of the California State Assembly also endorses it. Amnesty International's secretary general Irene Kahn and Human Rights Watch U.S. director Jamie Fellner have also contributed back cover comments praising and recommending the book.
The book includes chapters the special problems women face in prison, male rape, the plight of the mentally ill, the finances of prisons, the operations of racist gangs in the prison system, on conditions in supermaximum security prisons, conditions on death rows around the nation, the jail system and many more pressing issues. There's more information on my website, www.alanelsner.com. as well as a link to amazon.com to order it. The book also lists many practical suggestions that would vastly improve the current situation and help in prisoner rehabilitation and reduce recidivism.
I'm sure your readers would find it and the issues it raises very interesting.
I am also interested in opportunities to lecture and debate and conduct readings. Please feel free to distribute this e-mail to anyone you think may be interested.
Alan Elsner
Author of "Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons."
For more information go to www.alanelsner.com

Hi Dean,
i'm Diego a guy from Rome. i'm 21 and i discovered your columns last june. Since then i always check news from you..
i thought several times to write to you, and i know that the best way is the ordinary mail, but the email it's faster to write and so..
Anyways i discovered "your" web site because i study history, and for my exam of North America History i had to make a research about smthg about American life. I choosed the "Death Penalty". So i had to seek all the info on line.
Well i've always been against death penalty, but i've always been attracted by United States. I went to Miami and San Francisco last summer, i know i was close to you, and i thought to you.
I know so many things about U.S and i really liked the way you explained how a trial works there..i knew already a lot about it, but you gave me news infos..i know better the american system and the american costitution than the Italian ones..
So many people talk in a bad way about U.S. i do to but i think that there are so many good things in U.S. but the bad things, are so bad that they obscured the good ones.
One time you wrote about how many things E.U. did for the Human Rights ( i study History and human rights) and it's true. I'm really proud of it. it's hard to think that U.S. which is the country closer than others to European culture can be still so..drammatically underdeveloped about human rights. i heard people say that the death penalty it's a garantee for the respect of human rights..but that's bullshit.
Then you talked about how people think about the jail, you said smthg really true..that people want just punish , they consider inmates as shit, that's horrible. About this i'm happy that in Italy, penitentiaries are created to rehabilitate the inmates. But so many times people here complain about jails, because they say that they're not tough enough. Well i don't agree, but i can understand what they think, i mean.. in Italy maybe we have the opposite problem, people don't trust in Justice, don't trust in the "prison system" and some of them ask for death penalty. I mean there's no movements that asks this, but i think that if people could vote, they would choose death penalty. Forutnately it will never happen, bcause the Constitution says " Death Penalty is abolished", and the European Costitution too, and so many other things.
Well, i hope i'm not boring, the point is that, i believe in a system like the italian one, but maybe it's too soft sometimes, just think that it's not so common to hear about a "life in prison sentence", well it is but, just for particular cases, and if someone is convicted to life be sure that everybody knows who he is , because it must be smthg really notorious..
I completely agree with you when you write things about the american policy; i don't like it, but i wonder why people there don't understand that this kind of policy will take everybody to the end..i hope nothing like 11 september will happen again, but i hope as well that children won't die anymore for a preemptive war.
I think that nobody deserves a legal death, i can understand if someone kills someone else for revenge, but i think the State must be the guarantor of legality..well people think that it is, because it authorized an execution..that's crazy.
America is denying so many things, so many principles which made this country a big and strong country. the Declaration of Indipendence says that "..life is an "unquestionable" right" maybe Texas should read it again..
I repeat: i like U.S. there are so many things that there work and here don't, there are so many things that U.S. could teach to the World to Europe, but not before to learn, that Death penalty is horrible and terrifying, and it doesn't mean democracy, even Justice.
Take Care

Hello Dean,
I am a Native American Indian of mixed blood. I was the contractor for the NAB inmates for a long time, since I have dropped the contract due to pressure from the self-righteous Administration, I have become the volunteer for a prison. I have been going into the prisons now for about 13 years. I had the greatest pleasure and sadness to get to know two brothers that was served they're warrants and were executed several months apart. I have been in sites where I just want to gag with the garbage that I see from attitudes of those working in administration and as civil employees.
I also have a daughter that went to prison. She had a really hard time just keeping her head on straight while incarcerated. She still has nightmares and is still afraid of authority of the law. She has been very lucky to have had the best of parole officers that there could be. She is now free and clear from the system and is working to help others with problems after they are released from prison.
I have had a real life learning doing what I do as a spiritual advisor. I have been in a yards where someone was shanked. But, I was kept safe by the inmates. I have never, and I mean never been hurt, disrespected or treated in any manner that would be hurtful by inmates. I cannot say that about those that were not inmates working with the prisons though. And I learned how to deal with my daughter being incarcerated.
I have learned a ton about myself, where my judgments are and where I needed to work in that, where I am weak and that I am loved. I do not believe in the death penalty. A big change for me as I was brought up that an eye for an eye was the way to do things.
I think of you and others that I wrote to a while back and I send prayers your way each and every day. I know that Creator will see that good that comes into a mans or woman's heart while in prison and help them out. We, as a people, are the slowest beings to get it. I do not ever want to have to be the one to play God in decisions of another human-beings life.
I will continue to send you good thoughts and prayers. That things change for you in a good way and that you will be able to leave there and help those that need it in the free world. May the Breath of Tunkashila keep you safe,

We do agree on the important issues here. 
We have seen on national television how someone who has the economic means can go free because he can afford to "fight" the system even though the evidence says otherwise.
I work in mental health and I have a couple of clients who have been in prison. I know what they tell me about "survival" in prison and what it can do to a man/woman. 
I'd be interested in your thoughts on what would make it better. What would it take to improve the system? Is it even a possibility?
Until next time,

Hello MJ, 
I don't know if you can really change things. I suspect things are pretty well entrenched. But I think the whole attitude of prisons and incarceration should change from one of punishment to one of rehabilitation. That is the only way I see things being made less harmful to those who go through the prison system. 
It would take a lot of time to change the system to one of rehabilitation, but that is the only solution I see.
Take care,

Hello Dean,
have read and followed this site for a few years now overall. The site has improved, and I like the fact that it's become a little more selective. 
Anyway . . .  I find it extraordinary, the complacency of this country to tolerate their own inhumanity, when it runs into other countries and complains about theirs. The irony is, that it all a farce for the sake of big business, and mega billions of dollars, with no regard for human life. 
In your case, as an inmate, yes, I believe that a good number of you are in there, not necessarily for your actions, but because your presence at the time for sentencing was good for politics. 
Oh I am sure of that! I am also abhored about the fact, that even though this country states, all should be treated equally, it is the most racist, and segregational system, that plays out it's script, again, for big business and politics. I have yet to see anyone taking a stand on this. Or maybe there is, and they are just quietly put away. 
The fact that Texas has the highest number of executions does not tell me, that that is the state with the greatest crimes, but that the belief systems range around setting themselves equal to the most selfrighteous and black-and-white thought processes, banging themselves on the chest, as to how powerful it is. It scares me enough, not to want to go there. 
Your website over the years has opened a lot of information to me, that I looked on in other states. the dynamics between the politicians and death row. You are the gladiators, and we are the spectators. And the more there are of you, the more powerful we are. What a way of thinking! How many lives have been lost innocently. 
Gathering, that we are in 2004, it's interesting to see, that we are no different then the world of Iraq or Iran, or Saudi Arabia. It's the human condition. I am not negating that there are inhuman creatures, that should be locked up for life, and maybe put to death. But in my mind, it should be, of course in the most obvious of circumstances, such as serial murderers with or without sexual deviancy. To use the extent for sentencing for political reason, in my mind, should be a criminal offense! 
The older I get, the more disgusted I get with the system's way of using the people, it's sickening! But at least there is one thing in it. If you believe in an afterlife, oncoming execution may be a good thing, as you get released from prison and it's horrors. It's your purgatory, so you have nothing less to look forward to than heaven. 
I am not in your position of course to say this so lightly, so please don't get me wrong on this. You have gained a lot of wisdom in reading and answering the most adverse of notes to you, so I think you understand my comments here . . . 
Take care, until another time! 

Hello Yvonne,
How are you doing? Thanks for writing and for your opinion. I agree with part of what you say, but not with others. 
I don't think there should be a death penalty, period! As a society we should be better than that. Maybe in time our country will grow and mature collectively so capital punishment will be something our descendants will look back on in the same way we look back on slavery.
Thanks for writing.
Take care,

Ironic isn't the word for the pro death penalty right-to-lifers or as my daughter calls then anti-choice.
I will never be on a jury and I can tell you why...I have a paralegal degree and know just too many prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges for any prosecutor to not drop me for cause or use a preemptory challenge. It happened in Oct 1998 when I had to report to jury duty. Could I get excused for the 2 weeks because of financial hardship? Hell no!
1st panel I was sent on we are sitting in the spectator section with the defendant, defense attorneys and prosecutors facing us. One of the defense attorneys addressed me by my first name. Conference at the bench with the judge, prosecutor and defense and I was not invited back. All because I had spoken with the defense attorney for 15 minutes the year before about a case unrelated to the one at bar. I guess I could have evened the scales if I had told the judge that I had interviewed for a job with that particular prosecuting attorneys office but it just didn't seem like it would matter. They already had the defendant guilty. It was obvious by the body language of everyone.
Police are notorious for doing anything to "cover their ass" and make the arrest stick.
Even to making the arrest sheet look like the Police Academy is teaching a new class;
Fantasy 101 and making the whole court system like something out of Fantasy Island.
I am highly opposed to the capital punishment system. There is nothing fair or just about it. Those with the bucks walk those without...well you walk but quite a different little stroll. From 1900-1985 there were more than 300 persons in the USA convicted of capital offenses and sentenced to die by one form or another. Seems a small number right? That 300 were INNOCENT. Of that number 85 were executed before the truth of their innocence could be brought before the courts in appeal.
This is why I oppose the death penalty. One wrongly convicted person, male or female, black or white, that is executed is one too many. And how do you correct that mistake?
Dig them up, resurrect and apologize? Yeah right! Pay the family a large sum of money? Yeah right! Tell the child you are sorry their Daddy, Momma or whoever is dead. Not much comfort to someone grieving the loss of a loved one the state has chosen to murder.
My line is a bumper sticker I saw that reads something like this:
How do you tell people it is wrong to kill by killing people?


Dear Mr. Carter:
I thought you might find this to be of interest. It is a statement that was drafted by the church that I attend.

For a year and a half, the Catholic community of Saint James has undertaken a process of reflection on capital punishment and its relationship to the teachings of the Church. Parishioners were asked to express their views, pro and con, on a draft "Statement on the Death Penalty" which was being considered for adoption by the parish. Four well attended public meetings were held to which all parishioners were invited. In publicizing them, respectful listening and serious attention to all points of view were promised. Informational articles were published in the parish newsletter, as was the draft of the Statement. The draft was also circulated for comment on the Saint James discussion listserve. The overwhelming response opposes capital punishment. There are undoubtedly some parishioners who do not share the position expressed in this statement. However we believe this statement represents the general belief of the parish that affirms the position of the Church in opposing the death penalty. The Statement which follows reflects the results of this process.

We believe that all human life is sacred. We believe that abolishing the death penalty acknowledges that God is the Lord of life and harmonizes society with the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who taught us to replace the old law of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" with an attitude of mercy, even toward those who commit evil against us. We believe that the sacredness of every person, no matter how evil his or her actions, is open to conversion, repentance, reform and rehabilitation, even when incarceration is permanent. Every one of us is loved unconditionally by God and is open to God's redemption. This possibility can never be taken away.
Our call for the abolition of capital punishment should not be construed as lack of compassion for those who have been victimized by violent crime. They should expect swift and just punishment for those committing crimes. Medical, financial and spiritual help should be provided them. But concern for their well-being must avoid demands for vengeance and instead reflect the deep compassion of Jesus who taught and practiced forgiveness and mercy. In January 1999, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II called us to "end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary." He begs us to stand against capital punishment. For all of the above reasons, we believe that the death penalty is morally unacceptable and we call for its abolition.

This Statement acknowledges the political context in which this debate takes place and we affirm our belief that: - The death penalty does not deter serious crime in our nation nor alleviate the fear of violent crime, according to studies.
- The death penalty is not imposed with fairness, falling disproportionately on racial and ethnic minorities, mentally handicapped and the poor. The U.S. General Accounting Office concluded in 1990 that race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty.
- The death penalty is not imposed in such a way as to prevent the execution of innocent death row inmates. The American Bar Association concluded the death penalty is "a haphazard maze of unfair practices with no internal consistency." It has called for a moratorium on executions. No state, including California, meets the minimum standard developed by the American Bar Association for appointment, performance and compensation of counsel for indigent prisoners.
- Family members of victims of murder go through years of trauma that is prolonged by the death penalty process.
- "Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole" is an appropriate response to a capital offense. It ends the possibility that violent felons will be released.

Any statement in and of itself carries little weight unless it becomes the inspiration and springboard for actions by people of good will. Therefore, we will take the following steps that include Saint James Parish, the Diocese, the Davis community and the political arena in the hope of sustaining the intent and moral belief that capitol punishment be abolished. In everything we will, through prayer, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
At Saint James:
-share the finalized document with all parishioners through the SCROLL
-include in our "Prayers of the Faithful" a prayer for the victims and those facing execution
-Include in St James School and Religious Education, a section on the Church's teaching on the death penalty
-encourage homilies, where appropriate, to address the death penalty issue
In the Diocese of Sacramento:
-submit the Statement to Bishop William Weigand and the Office of Social Justice
-encourage parishes to adopt similar statements
In the City of Davis:
-forward the Statement for discussion with other faith communities to foster a joint religious community-wide effort including:
-joining the national "bells ring" solidarity effort
-community education/reflection forums-collecting signatures calling for the end of the death penalty Legislative Arena
-submitting the Statement to legislative leaders-the Governor, our State Assembly and Senate representative, Yolo County Board of Supervisors, District Attorney, City Council
Regional and statewide efforts:
-join the Capitol candlelight vigils
-participate with other organizations in seeking a legislative remedy to ending the death penalty.
For additional information on the Parish death penalty statement contact Deacon Clark Goecker (530) 756-4148 or Priscilla High, Chair of the Gospel Justice Committee (530) 758-3511.

St. James Catholic Church
Rev.Daniel A. Looney, Pastor
200 West 14th Street Davis, Ca 95616 (530)

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