As you know, the death sentence is being carried out with greater frequency than ever. At a time when crime is falling and many people are rethinking their attitudes towards crime and punishment, lawmakers and especially prosecutors and governors continue to sentence and execute at an ever-increasing pace.
Amidst this disturbing trend, the idea of a moratorium is gaining momentum across the country and throughout the world. An international moratorium movement is gaining strength and recognition by governments and NGOs. Moratorium 2000 calls for a cessation of execution by the turn of the Millennium. In this country, prominent death penalty abolitionist Sr. Helen Prejean is leading efforts to get the U.S. to join the Moratorium. In her letter of invitation to join the Moratorium Sr. Helen notes that, "trends show the world moving towards the abolition of capital punishment and globally we are seeing a narrowing of the kind of instance where it might be used . . . the time has come for us to join other national and international organizations to call for a moratorium."
The American Bar Association has called for a moratorium in light of the overwhelming evidence that poverty and race are key elements as prosecutors decide who lives and who dies.
The Holy Father is also supporting this strategy. In a recent address, he tied the moratorium to other efforts that demonstrate the Church's commitment to the Jubilee and setting captives free.
Parishes in both Florida and Kentucky have drafted statements calling on their states to cease executions while studies are conducted to examine the racial, income and fairness aspects of the death penalty.
This approachto call for a moratorium on the use of the death penaltyis gaining strength at many levels: city governments, churches and even in state legislatures. It is an effective tool to engage people in a discussion on the issue, is something that abolitionists can do after years of frustration to move towards abolition, and is measurable (i.e., the number of such statements can be tallied and used in support of the call to end the death penalty).
For ideas on the moratorium stategy as well as other resources to assist you in your efforts to abolish the death penalty, go to our RESOURCES web page.