Small Handful of States Continue to Execute While Majority of Country Abandons Death Penalty
(Washington, D.C.) Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice, is urging people of goodwill to take action this November against an unusual increase in scheduled executions. Currently, six men are facing execution across five states in the next 30 days.
“The fact that six lives could be lost to the death penalty this month should be of great concern to all Catholics,” said CMN Executive Director Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy. “As a Church, we have recently celebrated Respect Life Month in October, and in September we received a global invitation from Pope Francis to mobilize against capital punishment. These calls to honor the sanctity of human life are sharply juxtaposed by the possible uptick in executions in November.”
Pope Francis’ call for global death penalty abolition was offered as his official prayer intention for the month of September. The Holy Father recorded a video of his prayer in which he urged all Catholics to “mobilize for the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world.”
“Should these six executions take place this month,” said Vaillancourt Murphy, “it will fly in the face of our Church’s teachings on the inviolable dignity of the person, not to mention decades of declining national death penalty trends.”
The U.S. hasn’t executed six people in a single month since January 2015. Over each of the past eight years, the country has seen fewer than 30 annual executions — averaging 2.5 executions per month. New death sentences remain near historic lows, illustrating how capital punishment continues to fall out of favor with the American public.
The five states with executions scheduled in November (Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Alabama) represent a minority of jurisdictions within the U.S. that are still attempting to carry out executions. Of these, both Arizona and Texas have Catholic governors who profess pro-life values, yet permit the practice of capital punishment.
Nationwide, 37 states have either outlawed the death penalty or otherwise have gone more than 10 years without an execution.
Catholic Mobilizing Network is a national organization that mobilizes Catholics and all people of goodwill to value life over death, to end the death penalty, to transform the U.S. criminal justice system from punitive to restorative, and to build capacity in U.S. society to engage in restorative practices.
CMN works in close collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is a founding member of the Congregation of St. Joseph Mission Network.