As the Christian world prepares to enter into a solemn remembrance of the Passion and Death of Jesus this Good Friday, in a joint statement, the members of the Leadership Teams of The Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown and the Sisters of the Humility of Mary publish the following statement in regards to Ohio’s death penalty.

“We are writing to voice our concerns about the Vindicator’s recent reportings on the death penalty. As Leadership Teams of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown and the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, we support a moratorium on executions until Ohio’s death penalty is studied by the legislature. Ohioans deserve to know if the death penalty is effective, if it is the best use of our scarce resources, and if it supports healing for victims’ families. The death penalty presently fails on all of these counts. Rather than bringing any healing, the death penalty often prolongs the pain of murder victims’ loved ones who must endure years—even decades—of reversals in the courts and media hounding throughout the long life of a capital case. The death penalty provides a false sense of hope that with an execution will come closure. Many survivors have said there is no such thing as closure for a person whose loved one is murdered. What is more, the death penalty often creates new victims of the corrections officials who must carry out executions and of family members whose loved one is executed. Given that we spend millions more on the death penalty than on life in prison without the possibility of parole, we would rather see those resources being better spent on counseling for murder victims’ loved ones and other victims’ services, more law enforcement, or increased crime prevention programs.

The death penalty is not effective. Study after study has shown the death penalty does not deter crime. The death penalty is also carried out disproportionately—who receives the death penalty often depends on socioeconomic status, the race of the victim, and where the crime occurred rather than the nature of the offense.

We also risk the integrity of the entire judicial system every time an innocent person is released from death row. There have been 139 of these exonerations across the country, and that number keeps climbing. After spending 22 years on Ohio’s death row, the charges against Joe D’Ambrosio from Cuyahoga County were finally dropped this month due to strong evidence of innocence and prosecutorial misconduct. If officially exonerated, D’Ambrosio will be our sixth death row exoneration from Ohio. Nationwide, there are also several cases of people who were executed despite evidence of innocence. Every time we sentence an innocent person to death, we chip away at the system’s credibility to enact real justice. We can save money and ensure real justice is served by eliminating the death penalty in Ohio.

It is because of these reasons and because of our moral commitment to life that our Leadership Teams simply cannot support the death penalty. Thank you for taking the time to hear our concerns. We hope that in future reportings on the death penalty, you will consider some of the above. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss this matter further.”


Sister Nancy Dawson, President
Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown (OSU)
Ursuline Motherhouse, Canfield

Sister Susan Schorsten, President
Sisters of the Humility of Mary (HM)
Villa Maria, Pa

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