John Breckinridge is a Catholic. He’s also a former Manchester police officer whose partner Michael Briggs was shot and killed in the line of duty. In the January/February 2014 issue of Parable, Breckinridge shares the story of how he went from speaking publicly in favor of the death penalty to testifying against it.
In 2008, while Michael Addison was on trial for killing Officer Briggs, the New Hampshire legislature established the Commission to Study the Death Penalty. Of his opinion of the death penalty at the time, Breckinridge wrote:
“I was infuriated! I watched Michael Addison kill my partner and now we were supposed to spend our money to feed this guy so he could read books, watch cable TV, and work out? We were supposed to take the risk that some judge 20 years down the road might commute his sentence? Let’s put him to death and get it over with! I testified to the committee to keep the death penalty.”
Yet after reading an interview with Bishop Libasci, hearing Sister Helen Prejean speak at Saint Anselm, and having the opportunity to speak with Sister Prejean, Breckinridge began a spiritual journey that challenged his position on the death penalty.
“As I struggled with my view on the death penalty, there stood Paul, imploring: ‘Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.’ (Romans 12: 17-19)”
A Matter of Life or Death (click to download PDF of full article)