Three Executions in a Single Day Highlight One Broken System of Justice
Washington, DC - On Thursday, February 22, 2018, for the first time in almost a decade, Alabama, Florida, and Texas intend to carry out executions that highlight capital punishment’s failure as a system of justice. Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice, is disheartened that despite declining public support and usage states are making desperate attempts to prolong the practice of the death penalty.
“These three executions beg the question, ‘who are we executing?’” Karen Clifton, Executive Director of Catholic Mobilizing Network stated, “Rather than respect the dignity of all life, Alabama, Florida, and Texas are allowing vengeance to supersede restoration and mercy.
Alabama plans to execute a terminally ill man named Doyle Lee Hamm, who has been on Alabama's death row for 30 years. Lawyers contend that Hamm’s cranial and lymphatic cancer will make it nearly impossible to carry out lethal injection. “Alabama is willing to risk a botched execution in order to carry out Hamm’s death sentence. Moving forward with this execution reveals the inhumane nature of our modern death penalty practice and the disregard for the God-given dignity of the human person,” Clifton remarked.
“Florida’s scheduled execution of Eric Branch highlights the arbitrary nature of the death penalty,” Clifton noted. Branch was given a death sentence by a non-unanimous jury in 1994. While Florida has since enacted a new unanimous jury requirement, the Florida Supreme Court determined Branch’s case occurred too long ago to retroactively apply the new law. “Florida has decided to haphazardly limit the application of justice,” Clifton further stated.
“In a profoundly important decision in the Whitaker case, Texas has the opportunity to attend to the needs of the victim and choose restoration over vengeance,” Clifton proclaimed. On Thursday evening, Texas plans to execute Thomas “Bart” Whitaker. Kent Whitaker, Thomas’ father, survived the attack from his son, which killed his wife and 19-year-old son. Kent Whitaker has been tireless in his opposition to his eldest son's execution. In a rare decision, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to recommend clemency, yet Texas Governor Greg Abbott has not released his decision whether or not the execution will move forward. Clifton highlighted the significance of this decision, “The Governor has the chance to listen to the pleas from the victim who has suffered the most. Governor Abbott’s hesitancy in this case is contrary to the recent decline in Harris County, TX, national public opinion, and the Board of Pardons and Paroles.”
Clifton emphasized the importance of the work to end the death penalty, “These three executions clearly demonstrate that the death penalty stands in contradiction to our pro-life values. Catholic Mobilizing Network urges all Catholics and people of goodwill to join us in this work of life. Join the nearly twenty thousands people of faith who have signed the National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty and committed to educate, advocate, and pray for an end to the death penalty.”
More information about Catholic Mobilizing Network, as well as the National Catholic Pledge To End the Death Penalty can be found at catholicsmobilizing.org.
Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), working in close collaboration with United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and as a sponsored ministry of the Congregation of St. Joseph, 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.