Saturday, July 02, 2016

Nancy O'Byrne Letter: End Death Penalty. Now.

Eloquent letter by my friend Nancy O'Byrne in St. Augustine Record.

I agree.

Except that I still agree with the judgment against twelve key Nazis at Nuremberg, and I currently believe that IF, after all appeals and investigations, IF, it is irrefragable beyond cavil that someone:
o committed genocide, or
o committed mass murder, or
o kills a prison or jail guard, or
o kills a child, or
o commits a political assassination, or
o commits murder for hire, or
o commits domestic violence murder,
THEN the death penalty should be an option, subject to Equal Protection, Due Process, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendment analysis.

This is the result of my long considering the this issue, in a lifetime of discussion, debate, deliberation and consultation with teachers, policemen, prosecutors, Memphis law professors, Georgetown University ethics professors, Jesuit priests and Catholic laymen.

I am no expert.

But to advance the cause of more rational discussion in an irrational time and place, here's Nancy O's persuasive letter, focused on Father Rene's expressed intention, which Georgia prosecutors should indubitably respect:

Letter: Father Rene was right: It's past time to end the death penalty
Past time to end death penalty once and for all
Posted: July 1, 2016 - 12:07am

Past time to end death penalty once and for all

Editor: In response to the Most Rev. Felipe J. Estevez’ Letter to the Editor, published on May 29, and as a person who stood beside Father Rene Robert during many an execution vigil here in St. Augustine, I believe Father Rene would want me to add a few facts and figures to the conversation about the death penalty right here in Florida, and hopefully dispel some common myths.

I invite your readers to go to the Death Penalty Information Center at, which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research agency located in Washington, D.C., for more information.

■ More than $51 million a year is spent annually on the death penalty in Florida. It is less expensive to keep someone in prison for a life sentence without parole than to sentence him to the death penalty.

■ There have been 26 exonerations of Florida death row prisoners due to evidence of wrongful conviction since 1973 — the highest number in the nation. It is more than one exoneration for every four executions — not a good track record for Florida.

■ Florida does not require a unanimous jury for a death sentence, whereas 47 of the other states do.

The Supreme Court has recently ruled that our death penalty system is unconstitutional, and all executions are currently on hold.

■ We have the second largest number of death row inmates in the country; approximately 400.

■ Never in the 170-year history of Florida has a white person been executed for killing an African-American.

It’s time to end the death penalty in Florida — and Georgia — and wherever it still exists in our country. It is biased, it is flawed, it is unnecessary and it is costly.

St. Augustine

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