Via Quaker Dave, I learned that today is Abolition Day (no we're post-racial now, remember, so I'm not talking about that). It's International Death Penalty Abolition Day, as observed by the Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty:
March 1, International Death Penalty Abolition Day, marks the anniversary of the date in 1847 in which the State of Michigan officially became the first English-speaking territory in the world to abolish capital punishment. It is a day to remember the victims of violent crime and their survivors; it is a day to remember those killed by state sanctioned violence - guilty or not- and their survivors; and it is a day for intensified education and action for alternatives to the death penalty.A recent example of the need to eliminate the death penalty is the Troy Davis case, which I've written about before. In Hold On, I wrote about the Georgia man who has been on death row for 17 years for the murder of a police officer. With compelling questions raised about his guilt or innocence, after the US Supreme Court declined to issue a stay, the Court of Appeals stayed the case shortly before he was scheduled to be executed. The case was argued before a three judge panel of the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December of 2008 and a decision whether to allow a new rounds of appeals on the question of Davis' innocence is still pending. Troy Davis Makes Case for New Round of Appeals.
Amnesty International has created a video in conjunction with Indie rock group State Radio about the case:
Unlike the Bishop of the Scranton Diocese, who is more interested in stifling dissent than promoting the Church's teachings (other than his pet projects), the Archbishop of Atlanta has been an outspoken advocate against the death penalty. Speaking before an audience at Emory University, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory remarked:
Sounds pro-life to me.
“The Catholic moral tradition shows an unambiguous preference to preserve life even when the order of justice is threatened and the safety of innocent life is at stake. While acknowledging the moral and legal prerogative of the state to execute criminals in strictly limited circumstances, the church pleads for restraint in the exercise of that prerogative. The moral requirement to protect the innocent stands alongside the imperative to stem the cycle of violence that keeps individuals and communities enslaved to vengeance,” he told the rapt audience.
The archbishop noted that since the 1970s, when the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. bishops have issued statements against the death penalty at least four times.* * * *
The late pontiff [John Paul II] claimed that the death penalty is “morally permissible only in those rare instances where it would not be possible otherwise to incarcerate someone safely and keep them from harming society.”
And today “such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent,” Archbishop Gregory said.