Criminal Justice

More Religion, Less Juvenile Crime

From 1985 to 1994, the rates at which 14- to 17-year-old males committed murder doubled for whites and tripled for blacks. Juveniles carried out about 137,000 more violent crimes in 1994 than they had in 1985. A 1996 report issued by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), “Combating Violence and Delinquency,” warned that “juvenile arrest rates for violent crimes will more than double by the year 2010.”

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Sojourners Magazine February 2010
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Cities Light Up for Life

In November, 1,150 cities around the world—including 60 capitals—lit up public buildings to support an end to the death penalty. The “Cities for Life—Cities Against the Death Penalty” campaign was started by the Rome-based Catholic Sant’Egidio Community in 2002. The most recent event resulted in a special evening lighting of the Coliseum in Rome, Cathedral Square in Barcelona, and St. James Cathedral in Toronto.

Art Laffin, a member of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation and the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C., attended the Cities for Life event in Maputo, Mozambique. “My brother Paul was murdered 10 years ago and it was only my faith that carried me through that unspeakable tragedy,” Laffin told Sojourners. “In Maputo, I told that story but I also spoke about Dennis Soutar, the mentally ill homeless man that fell through the cracks of U.S. society and ended up killing Paul. I asked them to pray for Dennis. Mercy and forgiveness are the only ways to break the cycle of violence. That’s why the death penalty should be abolished.”
 
In 2007 and 2008, the U.N. General Assembly adopted two resolutions calling for the worldwide moratorium on executions. In the last three years, three states in the U.S. have abandoned the death penalty, bringing the total to 15.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2010
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