Anne Hammock Florida Times-Union
February 11 2023
In recent years, more states have increasingly abandoned the use of the death penalty. Currently 26 states have either repealed or imposed a moratorium on the capital punishment.
The 27th state should be Florida.
The state has the responsibility of protecting its citizens and punishing criminal activity. Our society should support the alternative to the death penalty by sentencing those who commit violent crimes to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. It is a severe punishment, and the only alternative to death in Florida’s sentencing framework. This keeps society safe without taking an additional life.
When the state takes the life of a convicted criminal in our name, it diminishes all citizens. When we condemn killing, but kill in return, we violate our own dignity. It does not make sense to teach that killing is wrong by killing.
We, as a society, do not have to continue perpetuating the cycle of violence. Society can be kept safe through lifelong incarceration.
In addition, the death penalty is costly to taxpayers. Trials where prosecutors seek the death penalty consume many more resources than those that seek life imprisonment. Given what is at stake — taking another’s life — the appropriate appeals process is long and expensive to the state. Contrary to popular thought, it is much more expensive to pursue the execution of an inmate than to require a sentence of life imprisonment.
When the execution of a perpetrator becomes entwined with “getting justice” for a victim, the healing process for survivors is often delayed and becomes much more difficult. For these reasons and many more, Florida should abandon the death penalty.
Felipe J. Estévez, Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of St. Augustine