A Common Pleas Court judge today issued a stay of execution for Terrance Williams. The Philadelphia District Attorney has appealed this decision. If this order stands, Mr. Williams will have a resentencing hearing. Stay tuned for more updates.
Williams would have been the first execution in PA in over a decade, and the first non-volunteer execution in 36 years. The next execution scheduled in Pennsylvania is for Hubert Michael on November 8, 2012.
Pennsylvania’s bishops wrote to the Board of Pardons earlier this month, “We are not advocating that Mr. Williams go unpunished for the crimes for which he was convicted. However, the modern penal system provides alternatives to taking the lives of guilty persons, alternatives that break the cycle of violence in our society. Punishment should reflect our belief in the inherent human dignity of each person.”
In Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II reiterates the teaching in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, “If non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm — without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically non-existent’” (Catechism, no. 2267; Evangelium Vitae, 56). Read more about what the Church teaches about capital punishment from the Pennsylvania Bishops.
Terrance Williams’ life was spared, but threat of continued violence is still before us. The next execution could come as soon as November 8. Click here to send a message to Governor Corbett in support of life.