The Catholic Church in Nebraska is kicking-off a statewide education campaign on the death penalty as the three Catholic bishops here are urging everyone to vote to “retain” the repeal of the death penalty.
Joe D’Ambrosio spent 20 years on Ohio’s death row for a crime he did not commit.
“Because two people pointed their fingers at me – the actual murderers – and said they saw me (commit murder), I was put on death row,” D’Ambrosio told reporters at a news conference. “Unless the system actually touches you, you have no idea how broken it is. It’s beyond fixable. To have such a barbaric thing in our country is ridiculous.”
The exonerated inmate is one speaker at forums this week in Omaha, Grand Island, and Lincoln designed to show the capital punishment system does not work.
Marietta Jaeger-Lane is speaking out against the death penalty, even though her daughter’s killer could have received the punishment.
“In the beginning, I would have been happy to take this man’s life with my bare hands and a smile on my face, and I know that I could do that,” Jaeger-Lane told reporters. “My little girl had been taken away from me, but my Catholic faith calls me to a different virtue, an attitude of concern and compassion.”
Jaeger-Lane says a life in prison without parole option convinced the suspected killer to confess to the crime.
“Only when this man was offered that opportunity was he willing to confess to the deaths of four children in this one county, including my little girl,” she says.
At the same time, Jaeger-Lane says the threat of the death penalty kept him from confessing to other murders he likely committed.
Tom Venzor, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, points out that in addition to the three Nebraska bishops, the past three Popes also called on Catholics across the world to end the death penalty.
“If it happened to me, it can happen to you and it can happen to your children and your grandchildren,” D’Ambrosio says.
The Catholic Voices against the Death Penalty events are:
- Monday, Oct. 24th, 6:30 – 8:00 PM CDT at St. Cecilia Parish Center, Omaha
- Tuesday, Oct. 25th, 6:30 – 8:00 PM CDT at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Cathedral Square, Grand Island
- Wednesday, Oct. 26th, 6:30 – 8:00 PM CDT at Cathedral of the Risen Christ, Cathedral Basement, Lincoln