Cardinal Cites ´101st Reason´ to Abandon the Death Penalty

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 2, 2002 ( Cardinal Theodore McCarrick hailed the recent announcement that at least 100 people in the United States have been cleared and released from death row as “yet another sign that our nation should turn away from the death penalty.”

“The 101st reason is not what was done to them, but what is being done to the rest of us,” the cardinal said last week. “The increasing reliance on the death penalty diminishes all of us, increases disrespect for human life, and offers the tragic illusion that we can teach that killing is wrong by killing.”

Cardinal McCarrick, chairman of the Domestic Policy Committee of the U.S. bishops´ conference, praised recommendations of Illinois Governor George Ryan´s Commission on Capital Punishment which the archbishop said will make the execution of innocent persons less likely.

After a two-year study, the Illinois commission recommended more than 80 steps intended to avoid wrongful convictions, prevent prosecutorial misconduct and ensure that defendants are represented by competent counsel.

On April 9, the 100th person on death row to be exonerated was freed. Ray Krone had served 10 years in prison before DNA tests vindicated him and pointed to another inmate as the person who assaulted and killed an Arizona woman.