-January 15, 2014 –
New Hampshire stands at the threshold of ending the death penalty in 2014. Catholics are active in the campaign, joining a diverse group of people and organizations who oppose the death penalty for many reasons including faith, financial cost, concerns about executing innocent persons, and an awareness that it does not bring healing to murder victims’ family members. As Bishop Peter A. Libasci of the Diocese of Manchester said, “[T]he death penalty neither deters others, nor brings this perpetrator to understanding, but instead, in the worst of ironies, publicly validates the very act of taking a human life.”
New Hampshire has one person on the state’s death row, Michael Addison, and he may be the first person executed in New Hampshire since 1939. In fact, New Hampshire does not even have a “death chamber” and costs to construct one are estimated at $1.7 million.
Bishop Libasci, speaking at the press conference announcing the 2014 repeal effort, explained that our correctional system relies on incarceration “both for the safety of society and, please God, the rehabilitation of a disordered life.” A former Manchester police officer, John Breckinridge, also has been talking about the possibility of redemption. John was on patrol with Officer Michael Briggs the night Michael (Briggs) was killed, and John later testified to a legislative commission in support of the death penalty. After a long and difficult personal and faith journey, John has come to believe that he “could not justify the very pre-meditated act of executing someone who – for all the evil of their crime and all the permanent hurt they caused others – still lives, like Saint Paul did, in the possibility of spiritual redemption.” Please take a moment to read the full story in Parable, the magazine of the Diocese of Manchester.
Together with John, the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of the Holy Cross, other active Catholics are engaging parishioners and legislators to end the death penalty. Parish committees are working on education and advocacy efforts, a bulletin insert has been made available, and Catholics are united with other faith groups in the prayer that this will be the year we bring the death penalty to an end in New Hampshire.