A.5767, Errigo: In relation to restoration of the death penalty for the murder of a police or corrections officer, or a victim killed in an act of terrorism

Published on April 3rd, 2017

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced bill would reverse the 2004 New York State Court of Appeals decision which invalidated capital punishment (People v. LaValle), by changing the “jury deadlock” instruction to jurors.  This legislation would, therefore, restore the death penalty in New York State.

The New York State Catholic Conference urges you to oppose this legislation.

The Catholic Bishops of New York State and the country believe that capital punishment is not justified in contemporary society.  They seek a society of justice and peace, and urge elected officials to send the message that we can break the horrific cycle of violence without taking life for life. 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops renewed their call for an end to the death penalty in November 2005 by issuing the statement, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.  We urge your careful reflection on this important document.

State government experience with capital punishment has raised many concerns, including the possibility of wrongful convictions; the risk of arbitrary, discriminatory or inequitable application; appropriate stewardship of the state’s limited financial and judicial resources; and adequate safeguards to protect the mentally ill and juveniles.  The bill before you does nothing to ensure that these misgivings and concerns can be resolved in a satisfactory manner.  It simply attempts to remedy one constitutional defect.

Yet even if a capital punishment statute could be crafted to correct all the problems, ensure constitutionality and due process, and protect the rights of all, there is no way the death penalty could be reinstated in a manner which resolves our primary ethical concern.  In our modern and civilized society, capital punishment is simply unwarranted and inconsistent with the Catholic Church’s vision of the sacred inviolable dignity of human beings, and the need to recognize the possibility of redemption and conversion.

We urge your rejection of this bill and any future legislation which would restore capital punishment in New York State.

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