There is an excellent article about capital punishment at Catholic Culture,

To add to it; there are no secure enough prison facilities to stop murderers from continuing to murder, as this series on Super Max prisons—which are the facilities most think of when thinking about secure enough— done by NPR in 2006 reveals.

This is an issue we covered extensively in our book on capital punishment, Capital Punishment & Catholic Social Teaching: A Tradition of Support, published in 2009. Each one of our books is a response to a likely objection to Catholicism that will be encountered when doing ministry to professional criminals; and for links to all of the Lampstand books which are available at Amazon, go to

An excerpt from the NPR series.

Even locked in isolation, some inmates have managed to find ways to kill each other and assault staff. On a recent afternoon, a half-dozen officers spent an entire day tearing apart the cells in one hallway, searching desperately for a metal binder clip they believed one of the inmates was hiding. Officer Buchanan discovered the paper fastener hidden inside a crack in the concrete wall. It had been sharpened into a deadly razor.

In the cell next door, Sgt. France held up a couple of staples she found.

“They use the staples. They sharpen them to a point, wrap paper around them real tight, and make a spear out of it,” France says. “It will go through the perforations on the cell. They can spear someone with it.”

Isolation Breeds Deadly Ingenuity

Lt. Steve Perez explains that inmates pull out the elastic from their underwear and braid it into a kind of super-powered bow to fire their weapons.

“They can project a spear coming out of there at 800-square-pounds per foot,” Perez said. “And 800 pounds per foot, into your neck, it’ll drive that right in there. And now we’ve got to go in there, and what does he have on it? Does he have feces? HIV? Does he have herpes? TB? Hepatitis? And that’s not unusual.”

Prison officials say that removing the most dangerous gang members and putting them in segregation makes regular prisons safer for the rest of the inmates — and it weakens the gangs.

But Jim, a 38-year-old SHU inmate from Long Beach, says that’s wishful thinking. He says that to gang members, being sent to the secure-housing unit is an honor.

“Coming up here was the big thing,” Jim says from inside his cell. “Put in work. Come up here, be with the big homeys. Because this is the only place you’re going to be around the fellas, you know.”

‘You’re a Target Because of the Color of Your Skin’

Jim says gang leaders still control the gangs from within the SHU, mostly by mailing each other letters. And he says if you show up to prison and don’t join the gang of your race, you’ll be a target for the other gangs within days.

Retrieved March 21, 2015 from