National Catholic Reporter

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Capital punishment

Pennsylvania bishops welcome death penalty moratorium

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on the state's death penalty Friday, and Catholic bishops welcomed the action.

Wolf, a Democrat who campaigned on implementing this moratorium, said halting these executions will remain in effect until he has reviewed the report on the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment. The purpose is to examine a variety of questions concerning the death penalty, including how it's carried out, its constitutionality, and if it reduces crime.

Kansas introduces bill to abolish death penalty

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The death penalty may be abolished in Kansas if the Kansas Legislature passes House Bill 2129.

According to the bill, “No person shall be sentenced to death for a crime committed on or after July 1, 2015.” Rep. Steven Becker of Buhler, Kan., a member of the House of Representatives judicial committee, introduced the bill in committee on Jan. 27.

Executions are down and abolition may not be far behind

It looks like the death penalty may be on life support.

January was set to be the deadliest month for U.S. executions in 2015, but nine of the 15 executions were stopped. In an unprecedented wave, three of the deadliest states -- Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri -- stopped executions planned for last month. February has just begun, but nine of its 12 scheduled executions have been halted.

Last year was not a good year for the death penalty, either, as death sentences hit a 40-year low and executions were at a 20-year low.

Bishops welcome court's review of using lethal injection in executions

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The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to review the use of lethal injections in carrying out executions is a welcome move, said the chairmen of two U.S. bishops' committees.

The court said Jan. 23 it will review the drug protocols of lethal-injection executions in the state of Oklahoma and consider whether such procedures violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

"I welcome the court's decision to review this cruel practice," said Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

Georgia parole board refuses clemency for death-row inmate with low IQ

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The State Board of Pardons and Parole in Georgia on Tuesday rejected pleas from Catholic and other death penalty opponents that death-row inmate Warren Lee Hill be given clemency because he has a low IQ.

His execution by lethal injection scheduled for that evening was to go forward as scheduled at the state prison in Jackson, unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervened. News reports said he had come within hours of execution three times before in recent years.

Texas Catholics ask Texas governor to stop exeuction of mentally ill prisoner

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Updated 11 a.m. central time: The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has halted the execution of a Texas death row inmate with a history of schizophrenia, just hours before he was to be put to death in Huntsville. Read more: Federal Appeals Court Issues Stay For Panetti

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In This Issue

February 27- March 12, 2015

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