May 2006

The May 2006 issue of the Catholic Worker featured the following articles:

  • Air Raid Drills & the NYCW by Tom Cornell –  Story of how a few dedicated individuals, who endured jail in a time of indifference, eventually were able to stop the fear-inducing, yet useless NY Air Raid drills of the late 50s and early 1960s.
  • Easy Essay: They and We by Peter Maurin  – A short paragraph reflecting on how people tend to want others to do things, but do not see themselves in need of reform.
  • Easy Essay: Institutions by Peter Maurin  – Short paragraph reflecting on institutions, which Maurin believed to foster the welfare of the masses, and corporations, which he believed to be organized for the wealth of the few.
  • Deliver Us from Fear by Dorothy Day –  A 1967 meditation on how the United States, the most powerful country in the world, can also be one of the most fearful. Calls upon God to deliver from fear and help us to the hard work of loving our enemies.
  • End the Death Penalty Now! by Scott Langley – Provides information surrounding the 1000th execution in the United States since 1977 and notes that 122 death row inmates were discovered to be innocent and released.
  • St. Joseph House by Matt Vogel – Reflections on life lived in community.
  • Maryhouse by Amanda W. Daloisio – Reflections on becoming closer to God through cooking, cleaning, and caring for others.
  • Peter Maurin Farm by T. Christopher Cornell – Reflections on a life of voluntary poverty and hard work.
  • Pierre Conway, 1915-2006 by Geoffrey Gneuhs – 
  • Aims and Means of the Catholic Worker by Editors  –  Yearly reprint of what the Catholic Worker is all about.
  • God Have Mercy by Bill Griffin – Article on the use of forced feeding and restraint chairs to break a hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Calls for closure of the facility.
  • Sweet Fruit of the Spirit by Jim Reagan – Article on the difference between personal charity and institutional charity. Questions the effectiveness of the latter.
  • Eileen Storey, 1925-2005 by Sr. Anne Montgomery – Obituary of a woman who was memorialized as “Like Elizabeth Seton, Eileen was a citizen of the world. Through her language and literature, her journeys and contemplative prayer, she touched the hearts of people in Asia, Europe, India, Nassau, Iraq, Guatemala, Rye, Greenwich Village…”
  • Book Review – War and the Christian Conscience: Where do You Stand, by Joseph J. Fahey. Reviewed by Tom Cornell –  Favorable review of a work that “attempts to guide his reader-student through a conscious process in view of each one’s culture, sense of duty, self-interest, gender, religion, science and consequences to an honest decision as to how to understand war and one’s own participation in it.”
  • Book Review –  Through a glass darkly : the U.S. holocaust in Central America, by Thomas R. Melville. Reviewed by Arthur J. Kubrick.  –  Favorable Review of the story of Fr. Ron Hennessy, “a Maryknoller who came to Guatemala in 1964, and his work among the Mayan people in El Peten and San Mateo Ixtatan as they struggled to survive the repression by the military and the government, and the efforts of the guerilla forces to overthrow this same government.”


As far as I know, the text and woodcut graphics of the Catholic Worker are not available on-line. If you would like the full text of an article that I mention here, I have three suggestions:

1) Try to borrow the article through Interlibrary Loan.

2) Contact the archivist for the CW at Marquette University:

Phil Runkel
Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Raynor Memorial Libraries
Marquette University
1355 W. Wisconsin Ave, PO Box 3141
Milwaukee, WI 53201-3141

3) Try contacting the Catholic Worker directly. They MAY be willing to send you the article, though I don’t know if they have morgue files. It seems likely they do, since they often reprint Dorothy Day articles. Contact information for Catholic Worker appears in the “subscribe” section below.

To Subscribe:

Even you if you don’t like what you see here, I encourage you to try a subscription to the Catholic Worker. They will give you a subscription for $0.25/year (If you want to cover the actual costs of a subscription, send them $10). You can hardly do better than a quarter a year!

Send your subscription requests to:

Catholic Worker
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Telephone: 212-777-9617 or 212-677-8627.

Even if you think you hate the Catholic Worker movement and all it stands for, subscribe anyway. See what the other side is doing. Also get it for the obituaries. Nowhere else will you find people memorializing the marginalized the way the Catholic Worker celebrates the lives that come through their houses of hospitality. Everyone can learn something about how to see every person’s dignity by perusing these obituaries.


One Response to “May 2006”

  1. Dudley Sharp, Says:

    You note that within Scott Langley’s End the Death Penalty Now!” that “since 1977 and notes that 122 death row inmates were discovered to be innocent and released.”

    This is false.

    The number may be as high as 20.

    A thorough review finds that death penalty opponents have lied, extensively, regarding the numbers of innocents sentenced to death, that such risk is extraordinarily low and that the cessation of executions will put many more innocents at risk.
    I. Innocents Released from Death Row: A Critical Review of the Claims

    Death penalty opponents claim that “Since 1973, 102 (now 123) people in 25 states have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence,” (1)

    That is a blatantly false claim.

    The foundation for these claims begins in 1993, when a study, released by US Rep. Don Edwards, purported to find that 48 innocents had been released from death row since 1973 (2). Rep. Edwards concluded that “Under the law, there is no distinction between definitively innocent and those found innocent after a trial.”

    This is flat out wrong and Edwards knew it. There is no finding of innocent after a trial. A not guilty verdict means that the prosecution failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The law recognizes the specific distinction between those legally innocent and those actually innocent, just as common sense dictates. Yes, there is a difference between the truly “I had no connection to the murder” cases and “I did it but I got off because of legal error” cases. 

    Among other improprieties, Rep. Edwards and other death penalty opponents combine these two conflicting groups to increase their “innocents” number.  This is a continuation of a pattern of deception by death penalty opponents, that had been obvious for years, for anyone that cared to look.

    In addition, Rep. Edwards selected an anti death penalty group, The Death Penalty Information Center (the DPIC), to conduct the study, thereby negating objective confidence in the results.

    The source for the 102 innocent number is also the DPIC (3). Richard Dieter, head of the DPIC, has confirmed, again, what their “innocent” means:

    “. . . according to death penalty opponents, who say they make no distinction between legal and factual innocence because there is no difference between the two under the law and because there is no objective way to make such a determination.  ‘They’re innocent in the eyes of the law,’ Dieter says. ‘That’s the only objective standard we have.’  ” (4)

    What nonsense.

    As this public policy debate is only about the actually innocent, we know why the DPIC fails to make that obvious distinction — they wish to, deceptively, expand their “innocents” claims.

    Furthermore, for many years, the United States’ courts have repeatedly enforced the obvious, common sense, important distinction between the actually innocent and the legally innocent (5). Mr. Dieter and all of those active in this debate are well aware of this. Death penalty opponents have chosen to be deceptive. (also see Sections IV. OK to Execute the Innocent? and VI. The Innocent Executed, below). This is hardly surprising.

    As Dieter and other death penalty opponents make no distinction between the actually innocent and the legally innocent, why don’t they claim that over 2500 innocents have been “exonerated” from death row? That is the number of legally and actually innocent released from death row since 1973 (6).
    The answer is obvious. They hoped that the media and others might just assume that the 102 (now 123) were actually innocent and not ask any questions. And that is exactly what has happened — a successful deception, aided by the poor fact checking standards of the media. The 2500 number, even for the media, is just too large a number for such blind acceptance.

    As this deception has begun to unravel, Dieter “clarifies” the three ways that  former death row inmates get onto their “exonerated” by “innocence” list.

    “A defendant whose conviction is overturned by a judge must be further exonerated in one of three ways: he must be acquitted at a new trial, or the prosecutor must drop the charges against him, or a governor must grant an absolute pardon.” (7)

    Dieter is consistent.

    None of those exoneration categories establishes, or even suggests, actual innocence.

    Acquittal, which is a “not guilty” verdict, means that the state was unable to meet the necessary burden of proof, in establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It has nothing to do with establishing actual innocence.

    In a case that has been overturned on appeal, the prosecution may drop the charges because of many reasons, the least likely being actual innocence (insert citation). For example, appellate courts may rule that evidence or testimony was constitutionally inadmissible, thereby removing the specific evidence of actual guilt from any prospect of a new trial and, thereby, precluding another trial.

    And an absolute pardon may have nothing to do with actual innocence.

    Just recall all the uproar over the pardons granted by President Clinton on the eve of his leaving office. I recall only one of those many cases wherein the defendant claimed actual innocence, and I don’t recall any appellate judge giving any support to such a claim. Or recall ex-President Richard Nixon, pardoned by President Gerald Ford? Does anyone doubt that President Nixon was actually guilty of obstructing justice? Of course not.

    Once again, we have example after example, whereby Dieter tells us that the DPIC standards have nothing to do with actual innocence. And this is simply back peddling on his part. As more and more people observe the extent of the fraud within the innocence claims of death penalty opponents, Dieter and other opponents will continue to change their definitions to justify their deceptive numbers.

    And the  “innocence” standards get worse.

    Death penalty opponents have ” . . . included supposedly innocent defendants who were still culpable as accomplices to the actual triggerman.” (8). The law often finds such criminal accomplices legally guilty for their involvement in murders, even if they, themselves, didn’t “pull the trigger”.  For example: Does anyone think that Bin Laden was innocent in the 9/11 World Trade Center bombings? Of course not.

    The DPIC, and other opponents, allegedly so devoted to legal standards in one circumstance — presumption of innocence — abandon a legal standard — the law of parties — when doing so can further increase their false “innocents” claims.

    What “standards” will death penalty opponents create next to deceptively raise their innocence claims?

    As the innocence frauds of death penalty opponents continue to unravel, they are now changing their definitions, as if they never meant that all the cases were actually innocent. In other words, they are just piling lie upon lie.

    The evidence is overwhelming that some death penalty opponents were stating that the 102, nationwide, were actually innocent people, who had no connection to the murders. They lied.

    Now they are stating it was just some function of release, as related above, or that they were only speaking of the “presumption of innocence”, the legal standard for defendants, during trial. They have always been lying about the collective innocence claims, now they deceptively change the definitions, as their previous claims are imploding.

    The DPIC’s newest standard?

    “There may be guilty persons among the innocents, but that includes all of us.” (9). Good grief. DPIC wishes to apply collective guilt of capital murder to all of us. Or maybe DPIC is about to declare all those sentenced to death and executed as innocent. Take your pick, they could go either way.

    A final mea culpa?

    Dieter states: “I don’t think anybody can know about a person’s absolute innocence.” (Green). Dieter said he could not pinpoint how many are “actually innocent” — only the defendants themselves truly know that, he said.” (Erickson)
    In other words, Dieter won’t assert actual innocence in 1, 102 or 350 cases. Not today, anyway. Why? Because he doesn’t want to clarify that there might be 20 or so with solid evidence for actual innocence. And that would blow his entire deception. But, it only takes fact checking to do that, anyway.

    Or, Dieter will declare all innocent: “If you are not proven guilty in a court of law, you’re innocent.” (Green) By this all inclusive (and ridiculous) standard, Dieter would call Hitler and Stalin innocent.

    So no one deludes themselves, the innocence concern has always been about convicting the actually innocent — the “I had no connection to the murder” cases — and what risk that represents for executing an actually innocent person.

    Even Dieter has always known (and never disputed, so far) that we don’t execute legally innocent people.

    Death penalty opponents wrongly state the burden of proof for “innocents” is not theirs to make — that defendants are “innocent until proven guilty”. This is pure sophistry. The “innocent until proven guilty” is a legal standard, that only applies to fact finders in a criminal case. Warrants are issued to arrest suspects, based upon probable cause. The “innocent” claims by death penalty opponents are part of a public policy debate which, allegedly, is concerned with the actually innocent sent to death row and how that may result in an actually innocent executed.

    What is the real number of actual innocents released from death row?

    A review of the DPIC 102 case descriptions finds that only about 32 claim actual innocence, with alleged proof to support the claim. 12 of those 32 are DNA cases. That is 32 cases out of about 7300 death sentences since 1973, or 0.4%. National Review’s Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru, independently, came up with the same number for his “Bad List” article (10).

    When reviewing various case descriptions by DPIC and then comparing them to the actual record, there is an obvious pattern of inaccuracy (11). This provides little doubt that many of the remaining 32 case descriptions by DPIC are also inaccurate. No responsible, objective party would depend upon the DPIC case descriptions.

    Furthermore, Northwest U. Law Prof. Lawrence Marshall, a death penalty opponent, who organized the National Conference on Wrongful Convictions and the Death Penalty in Chicago 1998, stated that, “In a good half of these 75 cases, the exoneration is so complete that it erases any doubt whatsoever,” (12). Prof. Marshall’s uncorroborated claims find proof of factual innocence in 38 cases.

    Why do death penalty opponents claim that they have proof for half their innocent claims, then claim twice that number as innocent?

    This claim is consistent with the 13 innocents/exonerations from Illinois. There appears to be some doubt about an innocence claim in about half of those cases. (13)

    California Assistant Attorney General Ward Campbell finds that at least 68 of the DPIC 102 cases do not belong on the innocence list. He has not conceded that all the remaining 34 do belong on the list. (14).

    “On July 1, 2002, in the case of United States v. Quinones, 205 F.Supp.2d 256 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York declared that the Federal Death Penalty Act (was) unconstitutional.”

    “The federal court based its decision in part on the DPIC List. The federal court itself analyzed the List and applied undefined “conservative criteria” to conclude that 40 defendants on the List were released on grounds indicating “factual innocence.”  However, 23 of the names on the Quinones’ List are names which (Ward Campbell’s) study submits should be eliminated from the DPIC List.”
     “If the Quinones court’s analysis of the DPIC List is combined with this critique’s (Campbell’s) analysis, only 17 defendants should be on the List, not the 102 defendants currently listed.” (14A).

    Furthermore, the Judge in that Quinones case, Rakoff, has since stated that the innocence number might be 30, not the 40 he stated during the case, indicating the combined numbers are, now, most certainly, lower than 17.
    Of those 102 DPIC “innocent” cases, 24 have been identified by the DPIC as being from the state of Florida. The Florida Commission on Capital Cases conducted a thorough review of those 24 cases.  The Commission found that 4 of those might have a credible claim of actual innocence. (15).

    That reveals an 83% error by the DPIC in their Florida case descriptions. If the DPIC has a consistent error rate, nationwide, that would indicate that there is evidence for claiming 17 actual innocents within their 102 innocents claim — or 0.2% of the 7400 sentenced to death since 1973.

    It is hardly a coincidence that the same number of likely actual innocents — 17 — is also found when combining the Campbell and Quinones lists.

    Based upon those three reviews, 17 is the most credible number for actual innocents released from death row since 1973. And 83% seems to be the common error rate for “innocents” claims by death penalty opponents.

    Even when using a DPIC updated number of 117,  The New York Times found that: “To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . .”.  (15A). Using the 30 number, even the Times find as a 72% error rate in the claims of death penalty opponents.

    However, using the DPIC’s consistent error rate, —  83% —  as found by the most through reviews,  the number is likely closer to 20.


    See “The Innocence Fraud of Death Penalty Opponents”

    Another case on the DPIC list is James Creamer, who was never subject to execution (17). The jury gave him a death sentence, even though there was no death penalty option, because the Furman v Georgia case (1972) had voided all death penalty statutes then in existence Even so, Creamer was sentenced to death on 2/4/73 and then was re sentenced to life on 9/28/73. He is still on the DPIC innocents released from death row list (No. 5, as of 6/3/02).

    Death penalty opponents (and the media) gave much play to that “100th case” – Ray Krone. It is an instructive example.

    He was not on death row, at the time he was found innocent via DNA testing. His death sentence was overturned in 1995. He was retried and given a life sentence in 1996 (18). Inmates released from prison sentences, because of innocence evidence, are not “released from death row with evidence of their innocence.” which is the DPIC “standard” to be on the list.  Death penalty opponents do what they can to fraudulently raise their numbers.

    Certainly a “100” could be considered a milestone. What few realized (or cared to investigate) is that it was a milestone of deception by death penalty opponents.

    At least 11 of the cases were not on death row at the time of their “innocence” discovery. 6 of the DPIC listed cases were not on death row when released and were prosecuted prior to 1973, in the pre Furman v Georgia (1972) era and, therefore, have no place in a modern era discussion of “innocents” released from death row (19).

    And, at least four of the post 1973 convictions, Henry Drake, Jay Smith, Kirk Bloodsworth and Ray Krone, were not on death row when they won their freedom. Krone, the now famous 100th case, had not been on death row for 7 years, when he was found innocent via DNA.

    None of those 11 are death row exonerations. They are prison exonerations. Therefore, the 32 cases becomes the 21 “released from death row with evidence of their innocence.” And, obviously, no one can depend on the DPIC case descriptions regarding how many more of the 102 (or the 21) cases were not on death row at the time they were “released from death row with evidence of their innocence.” Nor should anyone blindly accept the uncorroborated claims of death penalty opponents that all of those 21 are actually innocent.

    Professor Marshall stated that “the exoneration is so complete that it erases any doubt whatsoever.” If true, where is the independent, objective study which removes all doubt in 21-32 cases? It doesn’t exist.
    Can death penalty opponents present, at least, a review wherein 21-32 cases have a consensus of opinion, whereby the evidence, the prosecutors, defense counsel and the appellate courts agree on the actual innocence issue? No, they can’t.

    How many of those sentenced to death since 1973 have subsequently been released from death row because of actual innocence? It is likely between 15 and 30. 17 being the most realistic number, as it reflects findings in the three most thorough reviews — Rakoff/Quinones, Campbell and the Florida Commission.

    The 102 number means nothing, except as a ruse to fool the press and the public.

    In a joint press release, dated May 7, 2002, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty stated:

    “More than 100 people have now been released from death row due to actual innocence.” (20)

    Are such comments part of an organized deception or do they reflect willful ignorance?


    With remarkably few exceptions, neither the media nor public policy makers have required death penalty opponents to support their claims or to define their standards.

    In fact, the rule is that the media repeats exactly what anti death penalty sources tell them, without question and passes it along to their audience. This may be one of the worst “no fact checking” examples in journalistic history.

    As previously suggested (21), possibly, in the future, both the media and policy makers may inquire:

    — For how many of these claims is there proof of actual innocence?
    —Were those “innocents” completely unconnected to the murder?
    —Were they on death row at the time their innocence was proven?
    —Can you provide confirmable, independent support of these claims?
    —What are the opinions by the district attorneys and the appellate courts for these claims?

    All reasonable and necessary questions to ascertain the veracity of the claims.

    Isn’t it better to be clear and specific? As opposed to unclear, unsure and nebulous?

    Does the number matter? Only if accuracy and truth are important in public policy decisions and media reports.

    (NOTE — The DPIC claims are so misleading that we have stopped updating at 102. Based upon the various thorough reviews of the DPIC deception, an 80% error rate should be applied to any of their new “innocent” or “exonerated” claims)

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