A central aspect in the advocacy of Catholic capital punishment abolitionists is the assumption that modern penal technology—such as super-max prisons—are adequate to keep the aggressor from harming the innocent, addressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
“If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
“Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent." (Italicization added)
However, the illegal use of communication technology by prisoners, in even the most secure of prisons, has sharply reduced the opportunity to “defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor”.
The Los Angeles Times reports on the difficulty prison officials are having controlling the use of cell phones.
“Frustrated by the state's inability to prevent thousands of illicit cellphone calls made by inmates from its prisons, California's corrections chief is seeking help from an industry that has a big financial interest in his cause.
"Prisons Secretary Matthew Cate said he will offer a deal to companies that bid for the next contract to provide phone service for state inmates: Install costly equipment that will block cellphone calls and see profits surge as prisoners use authorized services to connect with the outside world.
"If cellphones are inoperable, the company will make more money," Cate said in a recent interview.
"Prisoners are supposed to use pay phones mounted on the walls of their housing units to call people outside. They are charged collect call rates, and the conversations are recorded and monitored by prison staff. But the proliferation of smuggled cellphones in recent years has reduced use of the authorized phones and the ability to monitor them, and officials say they cannot afford the technology to block cellular signals.
"The contract for inmate phone service is up for renewal. Cate wants the winning bidder to pay the estimated $16.5 million to $33 million that it would cost to install "managed access" systems in all 33 state prisons.
"In one day earlier this year, a test of the system intercepted more than 4,000 attempts to place calls, send text messages and access the Internet from smuggled cellphones at a single prison, said California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Paul Verke. He would not reveal which prison, citing security concerns."