Sperling: "The inherent imperfection of a justice system created by humans makes the potential taking of an innocent life an ever-present reality."
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Washington, D.C. - In response to Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's recent statements in support of repealing his state's death penalty, Rabbi Scott Sperling, Director of the Union for Reform Judaism's Mid-Atlantic Region, issued the following statement:
The Union for Reform Judaism Mid Atlantic Region hails Governor O'Malley's recent strong statements in favor of repealing the death penalty in his state. In both testimony before the state senate and in an op-ed in the Washington Post, Governor O'Malley noted several of the key shortcomings of capital punishment, chief among them the risk of executing the innocent.
The Reform Movement has long held that "there is no crime for which the taking of human life by society is justified, and that it is the obligation of society to evolve other methods in dealing with crime." As Governor O'Malley stated, capital punishment does not serve as a deterrent to criminals. Furthermore, the inherent imperfection of a justice system created by humans makes the potential taking of an innocent life an ever-present reality.
The Reform Movement lauds the recent steps taken by Maryland toward the abolition of the death penalty. We are further heartened by recent steps toward repeal of the death penalty in the state legislatures of New Jersey, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico. We hope that this is only the beginning of a long overdue national dialogue on the morality and practicality of the death penalty.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the
Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.