PLATFORM : The Death Penalty Is Both Vindictive and Wrong

Sister MARY ANNE VINCENT, a member of the order St. Joseph of Peace, is a longtime opponent of capital punishment. Her oldest brother was murdered 10 years ago this month. She told The Times:

A demonic spirit is hovering over our land. It's form is a desire for revenge cloaked in the mantle of justice. Its name is capital punishment.

Those Christians who quote Scripture ("An eye for an eye") to buttress their position for execution are in fact misquoting Scripture. Christian people are called to move far beyond that quid pro quo. An eye for an eye was, indeed, in its day a major step toward equal justice when people were executed for minor offense.

The United States, like many countries, is a pluralistic society. Unlike other countries, its elected and appointed leaders have for the most part pandered to the basest instincts of their vocal, vindictive constituents. Few have stood their ground and said that capital punishment is wrong. Too many have joined the chorus calling for state-sanctioned killing.

It is time for the United States to join the other civilized countries of the world in forever banning executions by the state. If we can't do it because it is the right thing to do, then at least let's do it because it will unclog the courts from hundreds of suits filed by people on Death Row. Let's do it because it will save the taxpayers millions of dollars. It costs Florida about $300,000 to keep one person in jail for life; it costs more than $1.3 million for each person executed in Florida.

California has 327 people on Death Row. If Gov. Pete Wilson and the state Legislature want to save $327 million, let them abolish capital punishment in this state. Let the governor start by commuting the death sentence of Robert Alton Harris.

I would feel terrible if the man who murdered my brother were executed. It is enough for me that he is in jail for life.

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