Together with my fellow Bishops of California, Pope Benedict XVI, Blessed Pope John Paul II and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to you today in strong support of Proposition 34 to replace the death penalty in California with a sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole.
As Catholics, this November we have a historic chance to vote “YES on 34” and so better promote the Church’s cherished tradition of restorative justice.
In 2005, the U.S. Bishops laid out a number of reasons for opposing the use of the death penalty, among them the irreversible mistake of executing an innocent person. The Bishops went on to find that the system was easily flawed, prone to error and biased. We know that hundreds of innocent people have been wrongfully convicted of serious crimes in California. Nationwide, 140 death row inmates have been exonerated of their capital crimes. It is hard enough to restore justice to such people while they are still alive, it is quite impossible after they have been put to death.
While serious crimes do need to be addressed with serious sentences, life without the possibility of parole is a severe sentence that meets our goal of public safety while better respecting the sanctity of human life.
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