The death penalty was first authorized in California in 1872, in the state’s penal code. Although the state Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972, the same year the U.S. Supreme Court also did so, there was only a five-year hiatus before the state legislature overrode Governor Jerry Brown’s veto and reinstated the death penalty in 1977. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty California has executed only 13 inmates. However, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has the largest death row in the United States, with more than 700 persons awaiting execution. Eighty percent of executions in California have been for those convicted of killing whites, while only 27.6 percent of murder victims are white. Furthermore, those who murder whites are over four times more likely to be sentenced to death in California than those who kill Latinos, and over three times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill African-Americans.

Election 2016

On November 8, 2016, Californians will have the option to vote for Proposition 62, The Justice that Works Initiative. The statute would repeal the death penalty and set life without the possibility of parole as the maximum punishment. Uphold the sanctity of life by voting YES on Prop 62. Visit yeson62 for more information.

en español: El Arzobispo Gomez te invita a votar SI sobre la Prop 62

Californians will also vote on Proposition 66, which would expedite executions in the state. Stop California’s death penalty system from getting any worse by voting NO on Prop 66.

California Bishops Statement: Yes on 62, No on 66

en español: Los católicos y la pena de muerte

Death Penalty Resources

Death Penalty California Fact Sheet – Talking Points

Homily Helps – October

Pope Francis’ Message on the Death Penalty

Visit the Death Penalty Information Center Page.




Bishops Statements

Joint Statements

Congregation Statements


Stories and Reflections


Declaraciones de Obispos Particulares

Declaraciones de congregaciones religiosas


Testimonios Personales y Reflexiones