For Immediate Release: April 16, 2023
Contact: Moira Greaney at
Website: Twitter: @CMNEndtheDP

Young Adult Catholics Win Poetry Contest Focused on
Injustice of the Death Penalty

(Washington, D.C.) On Monday, Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) announced the winners of the 2024 Justice & Mercy Poetry Contest for Young Adults, an annual contest inviting young Catholic poets to reflect on the injustice of capital punishment. Katie Painter (age 23), a Massachusetts native studying Theology at Oxford University, won first place for her poem, “Christ to the Condemned.” Painter, along with second-place, third-place, and honorable mention finishers Morgan Miles (age 22), Krystia Ramirez (age 29), and Allison Ramirez (age 25), were chosen from dozens of submissions from Catholic poets ages 18-30 from across the United States.

Poetry contest winners (from left) Katie Painter, Morgan Miles, and Krystia Ramirez.

“CMN launched the Justice and Mercy Poetry Contest in 2022 as a recognition of young adult’s indispensable role in the work of death penalty abolition. It’s our way of saying, ‘Your voices matter,’” said CMN executive director Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy. “Poetry, especially exceptional poems like we see here, has a way of transcending entrenched divisions and polarization. Poetry can unify because it speaks the language of the heart — igniting imagination and inspiring people to action. Each of these compelling poems holds that very potential to do the same. We are grateful to these gifted young Catholics for making the connection between their faith and real people who are suffering in the world. Each of these incredible young people shared their perspectives on the injustice of the death penalty and, in their own words, what justice and mercy mean to them.”

The 2024 contest winners were chosen by a diverse and discerning panel of five judges including the sister of a death row exoneree, a young Catholic journalist, a lawyer, a poet who was formerly incarcerated, and a previous winner of CMN’s Justice & Mercy Poetry Contest.

“Young people are the future of our Church and the death penalty abolition movement,” said Vaillancourt Murphy. “They consistently oppose capital punishment at higher rates than their older counterparts. They understand that the death penalty perpetuates racism, targets vulnerable populations, and risks innocent lives. For all these reasons, we have little doubt that young people will ultimately be the driving force behind ending capital punishment in the U.S.”


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.