Death Penalty & Criminal Justice
This page will be updated regularly. Please suggest additions by contacting one of the Coordinators. We welcome volunteersto join this Issue Committee.
CO-LEADERS ON THIS ISSUE:
Research Volunteer: TBA
Over the past year we have seen Florida pass laws that affirm the death penalty and expand its use. We have also seen a rash of executions. Florida remains one of 27 states that has the death penalty. Since its founding in the early 1980s, PCF has long stood in opposition to state-sanctioned murder as we proclaim, “Not in My Name.” We have long collaborated with Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and similar organizations.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” (CCC, 2267). We uphold the sanctity of human life, regardless of moral rectitude. Pope Francis reminds us of this when he says, “Always, in every legal sentence, there must be a window of hope. Capital punishment offers no justice to victims, but rather encourages revenge. And it prevents any possibility of undoing a possible miscarriage of justice. Additionally, the death penalty is morally inadmissible, for it destroys the most important gift we have received: life. Let us not forget that, up to the very last moment, a person can convert and change.” (Sept., 2022; See link to Francis’ video below.)
Capital Punishment is one of several elements in the criminal justice system of Florida in need of reform. We advocate for restorative justice. Again, Pope Francis tells us, “Fear and resentment can easily lead to viewing punishment in a vindictive and even cruel way, rather than as part of a process of healing and reintegration into society.” (Address to Delegates of the International Association of Penal Law, October 23, 2014)
Please join us and other Floridians who we seek to eliminate state-sponsored executions and advocate for reforms in our criminal justice system.
Some Background on the Issue
Existing Policies that are current law
Specific Policies put forth in the 2024 Legislative Session as they emerge
- SMI Campaign (Protecting People with Serious Mental Illness from the Death Penalty)
Other organizations and initiatives with whom we may collaborate on this issue
- Floridians for Alternative to the Death Penalty
- Florida FAMM (Changing Florida’s excessive Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws)
- Operation New Hope: Ready4Work Re-Entry Programs
- Catholic Mobilizing Network (CBN)
Ask Governor DeSantis and Florida Board of Clemency to Stay the Execution of Michael Zack, scheduled for October 3; Consider adding your name to two Petitions:
- Petition through Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty: The tragic background about Michael and petition to stay his execution
- Petition through the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishop – FCCB’s Letter to Governor DeSantis
- Sign up to the Florida Catholic Advocacy Network and then sign the FCCB Petition
- Refer to the letter to the Governor as prepared by Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty: Stay the Execution of Michael Zack (actionnetwork.org)
- Encourage prayer vigils in your community and faith community ahead of a scheduled execution; Join a prayer vigil in your area: Vigils and Protests – Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (fadp.org)
- Join the prayer vigil and protest at Florida State Prison in Starke, FL when there is a scheduled execution: Vigils and Protests – Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (fadp.org)
- Explore participating in and/or establishing a Cities for Life project in your community: Cities for Life – Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (fadp.org); Cities for Life – Cities against death penalty – No Death Penalty – Community of Sant’Egidio (santegidio.org)
- Establish within your faith community a contact person who can provide communications for your community newsletters.
- Encourage “study groups” within your faith community for conversations about the death penalty and criminal justice issues.
- Reach out to local faith communities to encourage a coalition of involvement and engagement.
- Develop contact with local media outlets to facilitate broad and in-depth coverage of issues related to the death penalty and criminal justice.
- Reach out to area ministerial associations to encourage their support.
- Send “Thank you” notes/letters to Florida Public Defenders.
- Support financially all those organizations which advocate for the abolition of the death penalty.