For Immediate Release
October 11, 2018
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Catholic Mobilizing Network Rejoices as Washington State Abolishes Death Penalty
Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice, rejoices today with Washington, the latest state to abolish capital punishment. In State v. Gregory, Washington’s Supreme Court reached a unanimous decision which declared the death penalty unconstitutional and commuted the sentences of its eight death row inmates to life in prison.
“The decision reached in Washington today is an enormous victory for life,” declared Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Executive Director of CMN. “Washington has taken this courageous final step to abolish capital punishment in the state, and to confirm the direct linkage between the death penalty and race. Today, Washington has modeled what it looks like to choose hope over death.”
Washington’s is the third state supreme court to outlaw capital punishment on at least partial grounds of arbitrariness and racial bias. In its official opinion, the Court stated that “the use of the death penalty is unequally applied — sometimes by where the crime took place, or the county of residence... or the race of the defendant.”
Joe Cotton, Director of Pastoral Care in the Archdiocese of Seattle and longtime advocate for death penalty repeal, is hopeful for what abolition will mean for ongoing criminal justice reform in his home state.
“As humans, we are often quick to transmit our suffering. Washington State’s abolition of the death penalty allows us to transform our suffering instead,” Cotton said. “This decision aligns our state’s practices with the Gospel, which refuses to perpetuate pain and harm, but rather utilizes it to produce beauty and new life. Perhaps now, we can further develop restorative justice initiatives that seek healing for all, rather than punishment of one.”
The Court’s decision to abolish the death penalty mirrors the steady decline in U.S. public support for capital punishment. Catholic Mobilizing Network believes that the decision reached in Washington today will serve as a catalyst for change in the states that still have the death penalty on the books.
Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), a sponsored ministry of the Congregation of St. Joseph that works in close collaboration with United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, proclaims the Church’s pro-life teaching and prepares Catholics for informed involvement in the public debate to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice.