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As spiritual leaders in the community we Catholic Bishops of Texas are acutely aware of the violence in our state Despite a growing reliance on longer sentences more prisons and more executions our states crime rate has escalated Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in the United States in 1976 the Catholic Bishops of the United States have repeatedly condemned its use as a violation of the sanctity of human life Capital punishment along with abortion and euthanasia is inconsistent with the belief of millions of Texans that all life is sacred It is important that we address this issue at this time Since 1975 Texas has executed more than 100 men some of whom were mentally retarded or mentally ill We currently have more than 400 men and women on death row We sympathize with the profound pain of the victims of brutal crimes nevertheless we believe that the compasssionate example of Christ calls us to respect the God-given image found even in hardened criminals We must now take bolder steps to change the attitude of the American people regarding capital punishment as a means of dealing with a complex issue It is unfortunate that a large majority of Americans including Catholics support capital punishment as a means of dealing with crime even in light of strong evidence of its ineffectiveness its racially-biased application and its staggering costs both materially and emotionally Captial punishment has not proved to be a deterrent to crime States which have the death penalty do not have lower rates of violent crime than states without the death penalty All other western democracies have abolished capital punishment and have lower rates of violent crime1 The imposition of the death penalty has resulted in racial bias In fact the race of the victim has been proven to be the determining factor in deciding whether to prosecute capital cases2 Of those executed nearly
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