amid proposed state ban
The nation's leading advocate for ending the death penalty will be in Arizona
for several talks this weekend.
Sister Helen Prejean, whose transition to activism was described in her book,
"Dead Man Walking," and dramatized in a movie of the same title, will address
the Arizona Ecumenical Council, the Jesuit Alumni of Arizona, the Arizona Death
Penalty Forum and the Coalition of Arizonans to Abolish the Death Penalty.
The sister, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, will be in Phoenix on
Friday and Saturday, and in Tucson on Sunday.
Besides "Dead Man Walking," Prejean, 73, of New Orleans, also wrote "The Death
of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions."
Dan Peitzmeyer of the Arizona Death Penalty Forum echoes Prejean when he argues
that the death penalty is cruel and ineffective.
"The more I have gotten involved, the more I meet people who have lost loved
ones in violent crimes," he said. "I've found that execution does not assuage
He said utilizing capital punishment is similar to a parent spanking a child as
punishment for hitting another child:
"We are murdering people to show murder is wrong," he said.
State Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, has proposed legislation this session that
would ask voters to ban the death penalty in Arizona. House Republicans have
not granted House Bill 2653 and House Concurrent Resolution 2048 hearings.
Bills must have a public hearing to move forward.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says the death penalty is an
appropriate response to the "unjustified taking of innocent human life."
"Our society has a responsibility to protect citizens from those who commit
murder and an obligation to hold accountable those who commit the ultimate
crime," he said.
Since 1976, when a nationwide ban on the death penalty was lifted, Arizona has
executed 28 people. Currently, 130 people reside on death row in the state.
Robert Moorman is scheduled to be executed on Feb. 29, followed by Robert
Towery on March 8.
A 2011 Gallup poll said 61 % of Americans favored execution in cases of murder,
with 35 % opposed, the lowest level of support recorded by Gallup since
1972.With the alternative of life in prison without parole, support for the
death penalty dropped substantially.
(source: The Arizona Republic)