Position of the UUA on the Death Penalty
In 1961, the UUA announced one of it’s first perspectives on Death Penalty reform with its passage of 1961 General Resolution on Capital Punishinment.
WHEREAS, respect for the value of every human life must be incorporated into our laws if it is to be observed by our people; andWHEREAS, modern justice should concern itself with rehabilitation, not retribution; and
WHEREAS, it has not been proved that fear of capital punishment is a deterrent to crime; and
WHEREAS, human judgements are not infallible, and no penalty should be used which cannot be revoked in case of error; and
WHEREAS, capital punishment has not always been used impartially among all economic and racial groups in America;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the Unitarian Universalist Association urges its churches and fellowships in the United States and Canada to exert all reasonable efforts toward the elimination of capital punishment; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That copies of this resolution be sent to the Governors of all states in which capital punishment has not yet been eliminated, and to the Canadian Minister of Justice.
Since then, the UUA has taken actions opposing the death penalty through Action of Immediate Witness events, panel presentations, other general resolutions, and have an active group Unitarian Universalists for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
Washington State Status
Governor Jay Inslee has placed a moratorium on the death penalty in Washington State.
The Washington State Senate in 2018 session passed a bill that would stop death penalty. The house of representatives did not vote on a parallel bill. UU Voices testified to the Senate Law and Justice committee in favor of the abolition of the death penalty, as did Quakers, Catholics, Ecumenical organizations, and several directors of the Corrections.
What you can do
There are extensive studies exploring effectiveness and justice issues with the death penalty. See the following explanations:
- Encourage study groups at UU congregations to discern best practices in criminal justice.
- Encourage our Senators and Representatives to sponsor a bill that will correct this racist, poverty-driven practice in Washington.
- Create dialog with county prosecutors to support reform and elimination of death penalty.
- Host discussions and forums that raise awareness of the dynamics of the death penalty and patterns of imposition in Washington state.
- Request our ministers to address how UU values fit with the continuing practice of capital punishment.
- Coordinate with other faith community members to raise this issue via panels, forums, and demonstrations of conscience.
- Support legal efforts to abolish the death penalty in the courts.