The Death Penalty
8 January 2003
The Death Penalty
The Death Penalty is the harshest penalty our courts have to offer. The death penalty debate in the U.S. is dominated by the fraudulent voice of the anti-death penalty movement. (Sharp1) Imposition of the death penalty is extraordinarily rare. Since 1967, there has been one execution for every 1600 murders, or 0.06%. There have been approximately 560,000 murders and 358 executions from 1967-1996 FBI's Uniform Crime Report (UCR) & Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). ) Approximately 5900 persons have been sentenced to death and 358 executed (from 1973-96). An average of 0.2% of those were executed every year during that time. 56 murderers were executed in 1995, a record number for the modern death penalty.
This represented 1.8% of those on death row. The average time on death row for those 56 executed - 11 years, 2 months ("Capital Punishment 1995", BJS, 1996) For over two decades the international community has pursued the issue of restricting and abolishing the death penalty.
(Sharp1) The Holy See Delegation welcomes the initiative for a resolution, under item 116a, on the reduction and possible abolition of the death penalty, and expresses its appreciation to all who contributed to this initiative.(Sharp1)
The position of the Holy See, therefore, is that authorities, even for the most serious crimes, should limit themselves to non-lethal means of punishment, as these means "are more in keeping with the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person" (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2267) . States have at their disposal today new possibilities for "effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm -- without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself." (Cf. John Paul II,