Julius Jones headshot

Just hours before Julius Jones was set to be executed Thursday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt commuted his death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Holding hands in a circle

Join CMN this November and December for a free webinar series unpacking practical components of restorative justice approaches in ministry.

Barbed wire black and white

Oklahoma took the life of John Marion Grant Thursday in what turned out to be a problematic execution that left Mr. Grant convulsing repeatedly and vomiting before his death.

silhouette of woman holding megaphone

From diocesan and parish-wide initiatives to individual actions by people the pews, here are a few ways that Catholics advocated against the death penalty this Respect Life Month.

Pope Francis greeting people

Among other pressing issues, many Catholics hope the pontiff and Catholic president will discuss the U.S. death penalty — specifically, the importance of President Biden commuting the sentences of all those on the federal death row. 

People in pews praying

As legislative efforts to abolish the death penalty in Ohio gain momentum, faith communities across the state are preparing to participate in Death Penalty Abolition Week for Ohio Faith Communities. This first-time event will be observed October 8-17. 

On Sept. 20, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals announced it had scheduled seven dates of execution between Oct. 28, 2021 and Mar. 10, 2022, including a Nov. 18 execution date for Julius Jones, who has a strong innocence claim.

Empty desks in a classroom

Many Catholic educators are eager to discuss the Church's teachings on the death penalty and restorative justice in their classrooms, but aren't sure where or how to begin.

Photo of Saint Maximilian Kolbe

On the annual feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, patron saint of prisoners, families, and the pro-life movement, Catholic Mobilizing Network announces its new Saint Maximilian Kolbe Giving Society which recognizes those committed supporters who have invested in CMN's ministry for three or more consecutive years.

Take a look back at how CMN mobilized Catholics to oppose a resurgence of federal executions and to advance alternative approaches to justice that promote healing, transformation, and human dignity.

CMN's free toolkit — available in digital, hard copy, and printable PDF formats — offers practical guidance on how to implement restorative justice within the unique context of Catholic ministry.

American flag behind barbed wire

“An execution moratorium, though a discernible first step, is not enough on its own... More needs to be done.”

South Carolina supreme court building

June 24, 2021 | The South Carolina Supreme Court issued two stays of execution earlier this month amid legal concerns regarding the state’s plan to execute two men during the month of June using a 109-year-old electric chair. 

A series of arguably mixed signals from the federal government have highlighted the need for clear and consistent advocacy against the federal death penalty

south carolina flag

May 19, 2021 | South Carolina governor Henry McMaster recently signed into law a bill requiring individuals on the state's death row to choose between executions by electric chair or firing squad if lethal injection drugs are not available.

Wire fence with hole in it

May 19, 2021 | Resistance from Senate leadership to advance the bill further paired with a lack of support from Nevada's Catholic governor, Steve Sisolak, ultimately thwarted the state's 2021 abolition attempt.

The Texas House voted in May to end a controversial death penalty law, one month after the state's prisons lifted a two-year ban on clergy and spiritual advisors in the death chamber.

Tennessee State Capitol building

On Apr. 26, the Tennessee House and Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of legislation to prevent the execution of people with intellectual disability.

Protestors kneeling with fists raised

"True justice requires more than accountability alone. True justice seeks to center the needs of victims, make amends, and transform broken systems. And from this perspective, there is still much work to be done."

Hands holding each other in support

From April 18-24, Catholic Mobilizing Network joins the nation in recognizing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and urging victim-centered responses to harm, crime, and violence.

Montana State Capitol Building

April 15, 2021 | The Montana Senate voted down a bill that would have revised the state's lethal injection protocol to enable a restart in executions.

Nevada state house

Apr. 13 | For the first time ever, in a 26-16 vote, the Nevada State Assembly passed a retroactive death penalty abolition bill. The bill will now be considered by the state Senate.

Arizona State House

As the Arizona Attorney General seeks execution dates for the first time since the botched execution of Joseph Wood in 2014, corrections professionals, religious leaders, and a murder victim’s sister are calling on the state not to restart executions.

White House and lawn

President Joe Biden is the first sitting U.S. president to publicly oppose capital punishment — a sharp contrast against his predecessor, President Trump, whose administration carried out on an unprecedented execution spree over his last six months in office.

Virginia flag

March 24, 2021 | Virginia is the the 23rd U.S. state to abolish capital punishment and the first southern state to ever do so.


On Feb. 18, 2021 the Death Penalty Information Center released a special report analyzing 185 death penalty cases that resulted in exonerations of people wrongfully convicted. The report concludes that the majority of wrongful convictions are not accidental, and resulted in the addition of 11 names to DPIC’s Innocence List

Dome of U.S. Capitol

Both federal and state legislators are rushing to file repeal bills and the drumbeat to advance abolition efforts is growing louder in the wake of a federal execution spree. Here's what you need to know.

Bird on barbed wire

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Executing the severely mentally ill would be banned under legislation pending in the Ohio Senate during this year’s lame duck session.

Join CMN for a series of Virtual Prayer Vigils in response to upcoming federal executions.

cement wall with barbed wire

Following a 17-year hiatus from federal executions, the Trump administration initiated an unprecedented spate of executions in 2020, resulting in a greater total number of executions than all U.S. states combined.

The outcome of the presidential election suggests that the recent spree of federal executions will soon — thankfully — come to an end.

On October 27, 29, and 31, more than 700 impacted persons, restorative justice advocates, and Catholic ministry leaders from across the country gathered online for CMN's all-virtual Catholic conference on restorative justice.

Every year on October 10th, the global abolition community commemorates the World Day Against the Death Penalty and raises awareness on behalf of those facing execution worldwide. Each year highlights a certain theme: this year’s focus is on the unequal legal representation provided to those charged with capital crimes. 

In “Fratelli Tutti,” the latest papal encyclical released by Pope Francis on the topic of "fraternity and social friendship," the Holy Father unequivocally reaffirms the inadmissibility of capital punishment in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

In the work to end capital punishment, it is critical to remember that racial bias is more than a contributing factor to the death penalty’s wrongness — it is the fundamental reason the modern U.S. death penalty system exists and operates in the manner it does today.

“With this award for Mr. Barr, the ‘National Catholic Prayer Breakfast’ has become a twisted halftime show between executions.”


Take a look at what CMN accomplished during its 10th anniversary year.

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, the chairman of the USCCB's Committee for Domestic Justice and Human Development, expresses his sadness over the decision to resume scheduling executions at the federal level in the United States.

Walter Ogrod photo

Five important updates for you to know as we enter into summer.

Hear how Pope Francis and U.S. Bishops responded to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, and learn how we, as people of faith, are called to do the same.

As Catholics, we are called to respect the dignity of all human life⁠—regardless of the harm one has suffered or caused. That means we cannot simply stand by when experiencing COVID-19 behind bars could mean a de facto death sentence.


Get the latest death penalty and criminal justice updates from April 2020, including developments in federal death penalty litigation, a Supreme Court ruling eliminating non-unanimous jury verdicts, and the impacts of COVID-19 on death penalty proceedings.

It is expected the Colorado will abolish the death penalty in 2020, a long-awaited milestone for the state which has had a governor-imposed ban on executions since 2013.

VA State House

The new year started off strong with a number of death penalty bills introduced into state legislatures across the country. Below you’ll find highlights of the legislation Catholic Mobilizing Network is watching closely.

Take a brief glimpse into our favorite moments of #IFTJ2019:

"On a chilly morning in Chicago, a dynamic group of Catholic leaders gathered at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR) for a deeply enriching four-day Circlekeeper Training..."

Scroll through this collection of photos from CMN's 10th Anniversary Celebration held on October 10th, 2019 at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, DC.

Through a mentorship program and Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), the Archdiocese of Dubuque is tackling issues of recidivism and addiction, and fostering strong community ties in the process.

On Thursday, July 25th, the Department of Justice announced it will resume executions at the federal level for the first time in nearly 20 years.

(Washington, D.C.) Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice, strongly condemns Thursday’s announcement by the Department of Justice to resume the practice of capital punishment at the federal level.

Learn more about New Hampshire's progress on death penalty repeal, and get the latest on death penalty legislation in states throughout the U.S.

CMN invites you to learn more about restorative justice, using circles in ministry contexts, and ways to be an agent of restoration in your community. 

Jesus is alive! The Word became flesh, dwelt among us, was executed, and rose on the third day. Let’s Gather. Let’s Build. Let’s Rise.

Forgiving When It Feels Impossible

Image: hands holding the body of Christ with a black background

On this first day of the Triduum, we recognize God’s unfailing gift of undeserved, unconditional, and unifying love for us.  This love has the power to embolden every human heart and calls us to do the same. Let us ask for the grace to respond to God’s call to love one another accordingly.

"Jesus was very clear, God wants life. Jesus rode into Jerusalem to give us life here and now!"

San Quentin State Prison

On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom made a historic step forward in the death penalty abolition movement by declaring a moratorium on all California executions.

Lent is the Time to Return and Stay

Solemnity of St Joseph

Drawing Inspiration from the "Hidden Life" of St. Joseph

"Responding to the Unraveling"

By: Mario Marazziti
Gavin Newsom, the new governor of California, with a gesture of political courage, has put a stop, perhaps definitively, to executions in the Golden State. On March 13, 2019, signing an official moratorium, he declared the "miserable failure" of a justice that still includes death.

California governor Gavin Newsom announced he will declare a moratorium on the death penalty, making the state one of four in the U.S. currently under governor-imposed execution bans. 

"Our ways are not His ways."

"New Ways of Engaging with the World"

Text: "The fruits of our Lenten labors must be shared with others or we have completely missed the point" -Andy Rivas Image: people holding hands

"The Fruits of Our Lenten Labors"

CMN table at CSMG 2019

2019 got off to a rapid start at CMN. Within a month of the new year, we had pulled together an incredibly successful film screening, our first-ever Restorative Justice Circles Intensive, two dynamic workshops at the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, DC.

Here's a closer look at everything CMN's been up to this winter.

As stated in the Catechism, we who are members of the Body of Christ are called to "work with determination" for an end to capital punishment. It's an bold and empowering commissioning—but where do we begin? What does "working with determination" look like in practical terms?

2018 Midterms Elections Results Death Penalty

From governors races to ballot measures, Americans harnessed the power of their voices and their votes in the 2018 Midterms to work toward a more restorative criminal justice system. Here are just a few of the recent victories that point to an end to the death penalty, which is indeed on the horizon.

Kate Grosmaire #HopeOverDeath Speaking Tour Washington DC St. John Paul II National Shrine

For many people, the first moment they hear about restorative justice is a formative one. So formative, that Kate and Deacon Andy Grosmaire recall exactly when and how it occurred.

On this special evening, at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington DC, Kate and Deacon Andy shared how their Catholic faith led them to restorative justice.

On October 11th, just one day after the 2018 World Day Against the Death Penalty, Catholic Mobilizing Network rejoiced at the announcement that Washington's State Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional. Will this spur action in other states that still have the death penalty?

Catholic Mobilizing Network is gearing up for Respect Life Month! Every October, CMN works with our brothers and sisters in the pews as they raise awareness in their communities about the death penalty as a critical pro-life issue. 

Healing Garden Philadelphia

Restorative justice invites us to cultivate moral imagination, to watch vigilantly for creative ways to heal pain caused by violence and build spaces for transformative encounter to take place. Fr. Paul Morrissey shares how he did this in an unlikely corner of Philadelphia. His reflection on events of the past reminds us of our nation's ongoing struggles for racial justice today.

With his historic revision to the Catechism, Pope Francis gave us a new platform from which to advocate for an end to the death penalty. Now the only question is: how do we use it?

Restorative Justice Mountain Catholic Mobilizing Network

Imagine the criminal justice system as a mountain with restorative justice as the vision at the top. Much is need to move toward that summit, but we cannot get there without abolishing the death penalty.

Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice, celebrates today’s revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to say that, in all cases, the death penalty is “inadmissible” (Revised Catechism of the Catholic Church 2267).

It never fails that over the past twenty-five years since its beginning, Starvin’ for Justice falls on some of the hottest days of the summer. This year was no exception. Despite the unrelenting sun and little shade, activists from across the country withstood the heat outside the Supreme Court to gather petition signatures, hand out pamphlets, and hold banners all in the name of ending the death penalty. Catholic Mobilizing Network was proud to be there with them.

Knowledgeable about foundational restorative practices, DePaul University in Chicago and Georgetown University in Washington, DC developed programs that create transformational encounter amongst incarcerated individuals, traditional students and faculty.

Restorative justice is so drastically different from America's adversarial and retributive approach to justice that it can be difficult to envision another way. It was this dilemma that inspired CMN to develop our small group educational modules. Hear about the impact it had in three pilot groups.

CMN is encouraged as the use and support of the death penalty continues to dwindle. Despite positive trends, there remains an insidious underlying current of attempts to strengthen the death penalty's relevance. This backsliding is a somber reminder of our need to maintain and spread the Church's Pro-Life teaching.

Legislative efforts to end the use of the death penalty in key states have proved active and energized during the first half of 2018.

A Catholic movement for restorative justice is underway.

CMN's Associate Director of Community Engagement, Emma Tacke, reflects on two powerful documentary screenings she attended this month, "Both of these films effectively use the vehicle of personal stories to narrate the moral questions and high-stake consequences the death penalty forces us to consider."

The Louisiana Interchurch Conference released its stance on the death penalty, calling this act of state sanctioned violence "The most draconian of all punishments which violates the dignity and sanctity of human life and diminishes us all."

Joe Cotton, the Director of Pastoral Care and Outreach for the Archdiocese of Seattle, explains how restorative practices are being used throughout the King County juvenile justice system to transform the healing process for all who have been impacted by crime.

2018 is off to a promising start for efforts to end the use of the death penalty! Numerous state houses are considering legislation to either repeal or limit the use of the death penalty, and several others are gearing up for active legislative sessions. 

CMN's Director of Restorative Justice reflects on her call to issues of criminal justice and how Catholic Mobilizing Network is seeking to enliven Catholics to become a part of this national conversation on restorative justice. We believe that responses to harm and crime must honor each person’s God-given dignity and offer opportunities for restoration, whenever possible.

For the first time, CMN has received written correspondence from someone on death row. Clinton Lee Young, whose October 2017 execution was stayed thanks to the efforts of so many CMN supporters and people of goodwill, recently sent CMN a letter thanking us and all people of faith for raising our voices on his behalf, "I am grateful for all those who are Catholic or from other faiths that spoke out for me." 

Catholic Mobilizing Network is pleased to have been invited to be the creative voice for Education for Justice's 2018 Lenten Reflections.

As 2017 comes to an end and we get ready to begin a new year, here is a quick recap of all that happened with the death penalty this last year.

Flordia Cities for Life

Check out the articles below and learn how Florida celebrated this year's annual Cities for Life rally November 30th and spoke out against the death penalty!

Yes, we are all pilgrims on the journey. Any good that we can do for another comes back to us a hundredfold. Jesus is in prison as well as outside the barbed wire fence. Can we answer Jesus’s invitation to visit him inside?  

Last month I had the honor of spending several days in Houston, Texas with Journey of Hope for a leg of their annual speaking tour. I was able to attend several of the formal speaking presentations at various schools and parishes and had the chance to share living quarters and break bread with this dynamic and eclectic group of people.

Just over a year ago our Sisters were murdered in Durant, Mississippi. Rodney Earl Sanders, a man who had been temporarily living across the street from the two, was arrested and charged with their brutal deaths. No motive has been given to date. Sister Margaret M. Held, a School Sister of St. Francis, and Sister Paula J. Merrill, a Sister of Charity of Nazareth, were members of our religious communities. They believed in the sacredness of life. In the wake of our unspeakable loss, and in light of the five executions scheduled this month, it has become even more important that we renew our call to end the death penalty. 

Participants of PBMR's Forgiveness Circle, including founder Fr. David Kelly

Restorative justice calls us to not only consider how we are personally connected with crime and criminal justice but also with one another. Through encounter, transformation, and amends we may be transformed and honor the human dignity inherent in each one of us.

As we approach October, where Catholics remember our call to be consistently pro-life, CMN also marks the 15th World Day Against the Death Penalty on October 10th.

Photo by Scott Langley

During Respect Life Month this year, CMN will be presenting in parishes and at different events throughout Houston, Texas with speakers from our partners at Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing, and the Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has requested the Governor to set an execution date for Arkansas inmate Jack Gordon Greene. Despite Greene displaying clear signs of mental illness and documented brain damage, he has been on death row since 1993 for twenty-four years.

Louisiana currently has the highest imprisonment rate in the country. A series of upcoming legislation seeks to reduce sentencing lengths, support re-entry and re-invest funds to reduce recidivism.

"How does God call me to be in relationship with my family, my community, and society?" This is the question that we must continually ask ourselves. The life of Jesus and our Catholic faith offer beautiful examples and deep wisdom about justice, mercy, and reconciliation.

On June 24th, The Community of Sant'Egidio endorsed CMN's National Catholic Pledget to End the Death Penalty, launching it on the international stage.

The death penalty has been in the news a lot these past weeks! Here is a quick summary of some of the most recent state updates to keep you informed:

In April, legislation was introduced that would repeal the death penalty. Despite the bill passing in the Senate, it ultimately failed to gain enough support in the House and did not pass.

In May, Delaware elected officials began work to reinstate the death penalty. The proposed bill has made it through the House and now waits for Senate leadership to schedule the bill.

On May 25th Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law a bill that shortens the state death penalty appeals process. Ironically named the "Fair Justice Act," many worry this bill will likely result in more injustice and further brokenness in Alabama's death penalty.

On June 6th the California Supreme Court began hearing arguments on the constitutionality of Proposition 66, the voter-passed initiative to speed up executions.

 "Let's take this moment to affirm the God-given dignity of every person and the great need in this culture to seek true restoration. Please join me in signing The Pledge to End the Death Penalty today."

Photo: Scott Langley

"Due to growing public opposition to the death penalty and especially in the aftermath of last month’s executions in Arkansas, CMN has launched this pledge to amplify the Church’s work to end the death penalty."

“Instruments of reconciliation” is a new national campaign to amplify active nonviolence in the U.S. Catholic Church. 

On Monday, February 6, 2017, CMN, in partnership with Washington National Cathedral, Washington National Opera, and Equitas, hosted a powerful Religious Leaders Dialogue on the Death Penalty.

“After the darkness of Good Friday has come a great light”

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor (Image via YouTube)

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor wrote the following letter to Gov. Asa Hutchinson March 1, asking him to halt the executions of eight men scheduled for April.

Being pro-life means acknowledging that every life, whether it be of an unborn child or a person in prison, is worth defending.

Photo: Carol M. Highsmith

CMN invites you to join us for a Religious Leaders Dialogue on the Death Penalty on Monday, February 6, 2017 at 7:00-8:30pm. This special event is in anticipation of the Washington National Opera’s premiere performance of Dead Man Walking Opera from February 25 – March 11, 2017.

For Immediate Release: 
January 26, 2017
Contact: Alexandra Carroll

"We call on you and all members of the incoming administration to prioritize human life and to promote policies that will enable life to flourish."

Laura Schaefer serves as Counsel for the Capital Clemency Resource Initiative Death Penalty Due Process Review Project of the American Bar Association

Although the effort to seek clemency for non-violent offenders is gaining traction in our country, the very notion of clemency is not new. In fact, the origins date back thousands of years, to both ancient Greek and Judeo law.

Catholic Mobilizing Network celebrates Dale Recinella, prison chaplain, scholar, and nationally recognized voice on Catholic opposition to the death penalty. The CMN team interviewed Dale, a regular contributor to CMN’s Mercy and the Dignity of Life podcast, to learn more about his work to build a culture of life in our country. ​​​​​

Sister Marion Defeis served as a chaplain for 23 years at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York before retiring in 2007.

By Dan Peitzmeyer, President, Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona – June 15, 2014 – In 2012, Arizona executed six men, placing the state in a tie for second most executed individuals, behind Texas. Many in Arizona are seemingly unaware that our state is actively executing.