1998-01 Letter to Michigan

June l, 1998

MEMORANDUM

From: National Steering Committee

To: Religious Leaders in the State of Michigan
Concerned Citizens in the State of Michigan

Subject: August 1998 Ballot Initiative Legalizing the Death Penalty in the State of Michigan
_____________________________________

The National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry held its 18th Convocation in Detroit, Michigan from May 16th through May 20th 1998. The Convocation is a movement of those who minister in the criminal justice system. For the past eighteen years our membership has been composed of people from around the nation who struggle to integrate direct service, advocacy, and education. We work in a religious tradition to move from a retributive to a restorative criminal justice system. We oppose the death penalty for moral, justice, and economic reasons. We are alarmed at the recurring of executions in the United States.

While in Detroit we were pleased to learn that the State of Michigan has never had the death penalty as a sentencing alternative. The citizens of the State of Michigan along with the citizens of twelve other States have been repeatedly successful in defeating any attempt to put the death penalty law on the books. We stand along side these citizens and commend their efforts.

Our opposition to the death penalty is rooted in our belief that all life is sacred and that state-sanctioned executions violate this God given right to life. We do recognize the seriousness of certain offenses against society and the need for society to feel safe from such offenses. We believe that there are alternatives to the death penalty such as LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE, which can be used to rehabilitate offenders while protecting society from possible reoccurrence of an offense. We believe that the death penalty is not a deterrent. We believe there is ample evidence that capital cases where the death penalty is sought and later affirmed in the sentence of an offender are more costly than those in which an alternative sentence such as LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE is sought and affirmed in the sentence.

We urge you as religious leaders and concerned citizens to once again stand firm in your opposition to the death penalty. We urge you and ask you to encourage others to prayerfully consider your vote in the August 1998 Ballot Initiative which would make state sanctioned executions legal in the State of Michigan. Our prayers will be with you during this important time.

On behalf of the membership;

DANNY M. YERT
Chairperson