the Death Penalty


Current Issues


“It is clear that for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and the extent of punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon and ought not to go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

The Gospel of Life- John Paul II
March 25, 1995



Capital Punishment


Our advanced penal system is capable of isolating the most dangerous amongst us for the protection of society. However, in 1976, the US Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment could again be used. Since that time, the United States has become the only western developed democracy to execute its prisoners.


Throughout the 1990’s, approximately 9000 individuals annually were convicted of criminal homicide. Only about 300 were actually issued death sentences. Approximately 50 people are executed each year in the United States. (Peace Network, American Friends Service Committee April 1999).


In 1995, Governor George Pataki signed legislation into law that reenacted capital punishment in NYS. There are currently six individuals on death row in New York State.


Since 1995, there have been 3 capital trials in Monroe County. Two cases ended in sentences of life imprisonment; 1 person was sentenced to death.


  • Studies indicate that capital punishment does not act as deterrent to capital crime. States with capital punishment do not have lower crime rates than state without it.
  • The poor and people of color are disproportionately sentenced to death, in part, because they lack the kind of legal defense accorded defendants with greater financial resources.
  • The convictions of a significant number of those sent to death row have been overturned because of inadequate defense, further evidence or the use of DNA testing.
  • The financial costs to the state are greater in cases of a death sentence than when criminals are sentenced to life without parole.
  • Public support for the death penalty diminishes drastically when those polled are given the alternative of life sentences without parole.

(All bulleted items are taken from Choose Life! The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors, 2000)


Capital Punishment Resources


Catholics Against Capital Punishment

(301) 652-1125

P.O. Box 5706, Bethesda, MD 20824


Judicial Process Commission (585) 325-7727

121 N. Fitzhugh St., Rochester, NY 14614


Moratorium Campaign (504) 864-1071

P.O. Box 13727, New Orleans, LA 70185


New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty

(888) 224-6579

40 North Avenue, Albany, New York 12203


Jann Armantrout (585) 328-3210 x304

Life Issues Coordinator, Diocese of Rochester


US Catholic Bishops

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