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September 24, 2015

Pope Francis, speaking to Congress, urges abolishing death penalty (and LWOP)

AP_pope_congress_10_mm_150924_31x13_1600I have finished watching the Pope's speech to a joint session of Congress, and these passages from the full text of the speech should be of special interest to sentencing fans (with my emphasis added at end):

Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions.  On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities.  Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.  To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.  We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction.  Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.  Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.  Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.  In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.  The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.  The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.  I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty.  Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

These passages will surely be the focal point for those eager to advocate for the complete abolition of the death penalty, but the language of hope and rehabilitation never being excluded from "just and necessary punishment" is also significant as a criticism of sentences of life without the possibility of parole.

A few prior related posts:

September 24, 2015 at 11:06 AM | Permalink


The Pope.

Lectures his hosts, but does not do the same to his Cuban hosts.

Says take in immigrants, when the Vatican has the most restrictive policy of exclusion on earth.

Then he sounds just like Esteban Vihaio, from the end of Kill Bill. Bill's mentor, both in articulation and content.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 24, 2015 9:33:50 PM

Prof. Berman

You are an unrepentant equivocator on the matter.

Welcome to your own purgatory.

Posted by: Peter | Sep 24, 2015 11:12:33 PM

Equivocation is a bit of a norm in the U.S. on this matter.

Posted by: Joe | Sep 25, 2015 10:07:46 AM

I am with the Pope on this one.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Sep 26, 2015 10:01:32 PM

Rehab is quackery. It is like weight loss commercial claims. They may have testimonials of people who truly lost weight, they fail to mention, they represent 1% of the buyers.

Ordinary common sense. Make more money than Prof. Berman without studying 80 hours a week for years. No income tax. No regulatory burden. All the crack whores you can handle. Or, let's teach you to do maintenance in a school at $9 an hour. But, because of the felony conviction, your application will be rejected in 100 places. Your parole officer will have to pull strings and call in favors to have his brother in law hire you.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 29, 2015 1:05:55 PM

I do not want to bash religion because it helps people on balance, represented early attempts to explain natural phenomena.

But let me understand the idea. You give us money today. You will be rewarded after your death with eternal life in an ether that is not in the physical world.

Then, it is the only scam or crime with constitutional immunity in the Free Exercise Clause of the constitution.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 29, 2015 1:18:18 PM

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