Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The death penalty in New York

Statement by David Kaczynski, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, on Renewed Calls for the Death Penalty


We join all New Yorkers in mourning the death of State Trooper David C. Brinkerhoff killed this morning in Margaretville, and express our deepest sympathies to his family. We all feel deeply the loss of a man who dedicated his life to the protection of the public, and express our deep concern for the well-being of the other trooper shot today and the continued recovery of the trooper shot on Tuesday.

Similarly, we grieve for the loss of Utica police Officer Thomas Lindsey, killed this month as he worked to protect the people he was sworn to serve.

We hope, however, that calls for the death penalty reflect only the passions of the moment, as we all come to grips with the losses that we, as citizens of this state, have suffered.

Moves by some members of the Legislature to introduce a death penalty bill for those convicted of killing police officers are an empty gesture that diverts attention from criminal justice priorities that would be more effective in curtailing violent crime.

Growing majorities of New Yorkers prefer life without parole as the appropriate maximum sentence for those convicted of committing the most serious crimes. There are many reasons people oppose the death penalty * it is biased in its application, costs far too much and forces families of victims to endure decades of legal maneuvering. Too often, that legal wrangling creates a macabre sense of celebrity around the perpetrator of the crime, instead of allowing us to remember and honor the victim.

In addition, recent years have seen an astonishing number of exonerations of death row inmates freed after post-conviction investigations established their innocence.

For many, at its core, we don't fight murder by resorting to state-sponsored killing done in our name.

As we mourn the deaths of Trooper Brinkerhoff and Officer Lindsey, we pray for some positive response to these unspeakable tragedies. Let us resolve to fight violence through effective and rational means. The futile and wasteful mixed message of capital punishment contributes nothing to making New Yorkers safer.

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

The New York State Catholic Conference
opposes the reinstatement of the death penalty. Their position is explained here.