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Los Angeles Chaplain Questions New Death Penalty Protocols

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January 28, 2016

The hearing held by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) last Friday, was the opportunity for the public to voice their concerns over the new death penalty protocols put forth by the CDCR.

The main areas of concern at the public hearing were how the drugs would be acquired, role of chaplains/spiritual advisors, projected costs of executions, counseling for staff and missing documentation on the research compiled by CDCR.

Speaking on behalf of the California Catholic Bishops was Father George Horan. He is the former co-director of Restorative Justice for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and now is the Founder and Chair of Healing Hearts, Restoring Hope. Fr. Horan is currently a volunteer chaplain at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles.

He decried the fact that the spiritual advisers who attended to condemned inmates must leave three hours before an execution is carried out and noted that in accordance with the Catholic faith and canon law, confessions cannot be conducted by phone.

He stressed that the new protocols should offer more counseling to staff everyone who witnesses an execution. Fr. Horan said that he could not imagine what these officers go through watching these inmates die and that when witnesses are brought in to watch executions, new victims are created. He recounted the story of one officer so hardened by his work on Death Row, that he was eventually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“To me, it just seems insane that we invite people to witness executions,” Horan said. “Gang members don’t do that.”

You can still voice your opposition to these protocols. The deadline for public comment was extended until Feb. 22. 

To read the new protocols, click here