Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

Nebraska death row inmate asks court to stay execution, vacate sentence

Convicted Norfolk bank robber Erick Vela this week filed a petition asking a federal judge to stay his execution and vacate his sentence, saying his death sentence is unconstitutional.

The 211-page petition filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday argues in part that Vela is intellectually disabled and that executing him would violate his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Vela's petition for habeas corpus, which was filed by his attorneys, marks his latest appeal following unsuccessful efforts in state court to overturn his death sentence.

"Mr. Vela accepted responsibility for his role in the murders when he (pleaded) guilty," the petition said. "Central issues in his case are whether he is ineligible for the death penalty ... because he is intellectually disabled, and whether mitigating circumstances existed so that his life should be spared."

Vela, 37, has been incarcerated on Nebraska's death row at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution since January 2007.

Vela, Jorge Galindo and Jose Sandoval were sentenced to die after being convicted in the botched robbery at the U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk in September 2002, that killed Lisa Bryant, Lola Elwood, Samuel Sun, Jo Mausbach and Evonne Tuttle.

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services has already notified Sandoval, 38, that they intend to seek his execution.

A death warrant setting his execution has not been issued, and lawsuits fighting the execution in Sandoval's case are pending.

Source: Lincoln Journal Star, Riley Johnston, March 27, 2018

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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