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Pope John Paul II and the Death Penalty

In his January 1999 visit to St. Louis, Missouri, the Pope again called for the end of the U.S. death penalty saying, "the dignity of human life must never be taken away even in the case of someone who has done great evil." (He also personally appealed to Missouri's governor to commute the sentence of a triple murderer from execution to life in prison. The governor agreed.)

In this excerpt from his 1995 encyclical letter "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life" ), the Pope presents the Catholic Church's reasons for opposing capital punishment.

Inside Death Row with Two Chaplains

These two chaplains discuss their thoughts and feelings on what it's like to be with Texas death row inmates in the hours before they go into the death chamber. Rev. Carroll Pickett has accompanied over 90 men to their execution. His successor at Huntsville, Texas' death row is Rev. Jim Brazzil who attended Clifford Boggess in his last hours.
Debating the Death Penalty

Here are some of the best pro and con arguments ever made on the issue of capital punishment including opposing views of two Supreme Court Justices, the opposing views of two legal scholars, the position of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, and the American Bar Association's 1997 call for a moratorium on the death penalty.
Why Is Texas  #1 in Executions?

The execution of Clifford Boggess was routine for the state of Texas. In the three years (1995-98) that FRONTLINE spent reporting on death row in Texas and Clifford Boggess's story, 69 men and one woman were put to death - 8 in a single month.
he New Speed-Up in Habeas Corpus Appeals

For decades habeas writs have been death row inmates' last hope for appealing their cases. However, a 1995 Supreme Court ruling and a 1996 law have streamlined the habeas process and, critics say, undermined this fundamental safeguard against wrongful conviction.
An Argument Against Allowing Families of Murder Victims to View Executions

In the 1990s many states passed legislation allowing the families of victims to watch, directly or indirectly,the execution of a loved one's murderer. But does attending an execution ease the pain, or bring healing and closure for the family? This article questions the thinking behind right-to-view statutes.
History of the Death Penalty

From ancient China to late 20th century America, this is a good historical summary. It presents the many strange methods of execution, the range of crimes covered by it in different cultures, and gives a rundown of what has happened in America over three centuries, including a list of the most important capital punishment decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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