The Unitarian Universalist Case Against the Death Penalty
General Assembly 2000 Event 231
Presenters: Rev. Anne Hines, Rev. John Marsh
Jean Rabenold, President of Unitarian Universalists Against the Death Penalty, moderated a panel presenting reflections on why we, as religious liberals, are called to work toward abolition of capital punishment. In addition, the most commonly expressed arguments favoring the death penalty were discussed, and questions answered.
If You Support Capital Punishment
By Julie Zimmerman
In a system run by humans and therefore prone to human error, if you support capital punishment, you accept the fact that some of the people executed will be innocent.
As more and more teenagers are being tried as adults, if you support capital punishment, you accept the fact that some of the people executed will be children.
Because "knowing right from wrong" disqualifies an offender from using an insanity defense, if you support capital punishment, you accept the fact that some of the people executed will be mentally ill or mentally retarded.
In a society that clamors for victims' rights and compassion for the innocent, if you support capital punishment, you accept the fact that pain and suffering will be inflicted on those who have committed no crime, the family and friends of the offender.
In an age when more and more Americans distrust "the system," if you support capital punishment, you accept the fact that you have granted that system the right to decide which of its citizens deserve to die.
In a nation that prides itself on its criminal justice system, if you support capital punishment, you accept the fact that it is the poor who are executed and that the race of the victim does more to determine who gets a death sentence than the crime itself.
In a country that seeks to decrease violence on television, on the streets and in the family, if you support capital punishment, you accept the fact that our children will learn that killing is the solution to society's problems.
In a world that cries out for peace and understanding, if you support capital punishment, you have made a judgement that thousands of incarcerated Americans, (about whom you know only what the media has told you), are no longer human, are no longer children of God, and are incapable of change, reconciliation or redemption, and that the family of the murder victim are incapable of forgiveness.
Seven years ago, my uncle was murdered. My uncle's killer is still alive, serving a life sentence. I thank God that the brutal, irrational crime that ended my uncle's life did not result in another senseless killing.
Julie Zimmerman is the editor of Biddle Press, and wrote this as a foreword for Frontiers of Justice, Volume 1, The Death Penalty. This book deserves an honored place on the bookshelves of abolitionists everywhere. It is a fine collection of essays examining the death penalty issue from many points of view. The Biddle Press also publishes Trapped Under Ice, an anthology of poems written by death row inmates.
Biddle Publishing Company
PO Box 1305 #103
Brunswick, ME 04011
Declaration of Life
I, the undersigned, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do hereby in the presence of witnesses make this Declaration of Life.
I am opposed to capital punishment on any ground whatsoever.
I believe it is morally wrong for any state or other governmental entity to take the life of a human being by way of capital punishment.
I believe (and am statistically supported) that capital punishment serves no purpose other than that of revenge. Taking life for the purpose of revenge is abhorrent to me.
THEREFORE, I hereby declare that should I die as a result of a violent crime, I plead, pray and request that the person or persons found guilty of homicide for my killing not be subject to or put in jeopardy of the death penalty under any circumstances, no matter how heinous their crime or how much I may have suffered. The death penalty would only increase my suffering.
I plead, pray and request that the Prosecutor or District Attorney having jurisdiction over the person or persons alleged to have committed my homicide not file or prosecute an action for capital punishment as a result of my homicide.
I plead, pray and request the Court to allow this Declaration to be admissible as a statement of the victim at the sentencing of the person or persons charged and convicted of my homicide; I pray that the Court will pass sentence in accordance with my wishes.
I plead, pray and request that the Governor or other executive officer grant pardon, clemency or take whatever action is necessary to stay and prohibit the carrying out of the execution of any person or persons found guilty of my homicide.
I plead, pray and request that my family and friends take whatever actions are necessary to carry out the intent and purpose of the Declaration; I further request them to take no action contrary to this Declaration.
During my life, I want to feel confident that under no circumstances whatsoever will my death result in the capital punishment of another human being.
I request that, should I die under the circumstances as set forth in this Declaration and the death penalty is requested, my family, friends and personal representative deliver copies of this Declaration as follows: to the Prosecutor or District Attorney having jurisdiction over the person or persons charged with my homicide; to the attorney representing the person or persons charged with my homicide; to the Judge presiding over the case involving my homicide; for recording, to the Recorder of the County in which my homicide took place and to the Recorder of the County in which the persons or persons charged with my homicide are to be tried; to all newspapers, radio and television stations of general circulation in the County in which my homicide took place and the County in which the persons or persons charged with my homicide are to be tried; and to any other person, persons or entities my family, friends or personal representative deem appropriate in order to carry out my wishes as set forth herein.
I affirm under the pains and penalties for perjury that the above Declaration of Life is true.