Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Sister Helen Prejean author of "The Death of Innocents

Pope John Paul II was very much against the death penalty, so much so, that in his 1995 encyclical The Gospel of Life ("Evangelium Vitae") he removed the criteria of grave or grievous crime therefore making the Catholic Church stand against the death penalty absolute. In the Catholic catechism it shows up as an omission so many Catholics do not know this.

Sister Helen Prejean author of Dead Man Walking discussed her new book "The Death of Innocents" on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane. It was a very eye-opening conversation.

Since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated, more than 900 people have been executed since that time. 117 people - mostly poor and African American - have been released from death row, and completely exonerated due to activist groups intervening and digging up evidence or witness' proving the person's innocence. If not for the work of these activist groups, the appeals court would have, no doubt, found these innocent people guilty. It makes one wonder how many of the executed people may have been found innocent.

In one particularly sad case, Dobie Gillis Williams, an African-American with an I.Q. of 65 was executed and Sr. Helen Prejean points out the evidence were destroyed after the man's death, making it impossible to prove his innocence after the fact. Not to mention the man's lawyer was disbarred later, and no forensic investigation took place at all.

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