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The Death Penalty Gender Gap

Womens eNews - Sun, 24 Apr 2011 14:43 GMT
Author: Womens eNews
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Economic Downturn Raises Questions As the country's economic downturn forces drastic cuts in states' budgets, more legislators are taking a hard look at the high costs of capital punishment, particularly those in such cash-strapped states such as California. "California's death penalty system will cost taxpayers more than ${esc.dollar}1 billion over the next five years," Stefanie Faucher, associate director of the San Francisco-based Death Penalty Focus, told Women's eNews. "By replacing the death penalty with alternative punishments that keep our communities safe, we could instead use these precious funds on education, health care, child and domestic abuse prevention, mental health services, effective public safety programs and additional services for victims of crime." Various religious faiths are actively working against capital punishment, with women of faith in prominent roles. One, Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, detailed her experience as spiritual advisor to Louisiana death row prisoner Patrick Sonnier in her book "Dead Man Walking," which was adapted for film, stage and opera. The experience led her to her current work of traveling the country urging an end to capital punishment and counseling death row prisoners and their families and the families of murder victims. "When I became the first woman in Louisiana to accompany a prisoner (Sonnier) to the death chamber, the prison chaplains, all males, were bent out of shape," she recalled in an interview with Women's eNews. "They said, 'This is a man's job.' They could do their duty, turn the switch and execute someone as a job. They could be passive and legitimize their work instead of resisting it. I wasn't on the (corrections) payroll, so I could just do what Jesus would do: Be with the marginalized, the cast aside, the despised. It changed my life forever."

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