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Letter to the editor: Abolition Coalition against death penalty

Friday, April 12, 2013 - 12:01 am

There will be a special regional meeting of the Indiana Abolition Coalition — the first held in Northeast Indiana — on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House. All are invited.

I truly have come to the place of abhorring the death penalty for the following reasons:

1. My experience with the case of Joseph Corcoran — once again up for appeal. This man is very seriously ill with schizophrenia, untreated before his crimes. He does not have the capacity to think rationally.

This evidence was known at his sentencing in 2000, but Judge Fran Gull ignored it. His brain illness has been verified time and time again while he has been on death row.

The amount of money spent on his conviction and appeals approaches $1 million. We could so use that money in helping people live successfully with schizophrenia rather than in paying for all the time and effort defense council, prosecuting attorneys and appellate court judges have spent on this case.

What a waste!

2. The death penalty is not administered to the “worst of the worst,” but rather to the poor, to the seriously mentally ill, to minorities, to those who cannot afford effective council and those who just “want to die.” A coalition has urged a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty in Indiana because it has been so poorly and inconsistently awarded and administered.

3. Many individuals across the country who were given the death penalty by shoddy adjudicators have been exonerated and released after many years of false imprisonment.

4. Death penalty convictions drag on for many years, dragging the surviving family members through the death swamp over and over.

There is no release, no healing. The agony and grief just keep flooding the soul. This creates a double tragedy. The torment just continues. Many survivors (including our own Fort Wayne Aliana survivors) recognize this and have chosen instead to live again in memory of the person slain.

A large, effective international organization has arisen of such survivors: “Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights.” This organization of relatives of homicide victims and those executed oppose the death penalty from a victim perspective and from a human rights perspective.

5. The Catholic Church and many Protestant churches oppose the death penalty in the strongest terms. “Thou Shall Not Kill.” Most European countries have outlawed the death penalty and think the U.S. is barbaric for continuing it.

Please join me. We can make a difference.

Kathleen A. Bayes