Ending the Death Penalty

All life is sacred, no matter the harm someone has experienced or caused.

The death penalty violates the right to life.

Every year, the U.S. condemns and executes dozens of people, while thousands more await their fate on death row. Lives are being thrown away for the sake of vengeance, but a growing, faith-driven movement seeks to change this.

By joining together as a Catholic community, we can intensify the call for the abolition of the death penalty and cultivate an unconditional respect for human life.

“The dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil.”

– Saint Pope John Paul II

The death penalty is deeply broken.

The U.S. death penalty system is ineffective, costly, and deeply flawed. It damages not only the lives it takes, but also:

Victims’ Families

CMN works closely with families of murder victims, many of whom share the belief that taking another life would not help their healing.

The Innocent

At least 197 wrongfully convicted people have been exonerated and freed from death row since 1973.

People of Color

The U.S. death penalty disproportionately impacts Black and Brown communities. It is a direct outcome of slavery and lynching.

Vulnerable Populations

The death penalty is unevenly applied to people with severe mental illnesses, intellectual disabilities, brain injuries, and histories of childhood trauma.


The death penalty fails as a crime deterrent, and its implementation proves more costly for governments than alternative sentences.

What does the Catholic Church say about the death penalty?

The Catholic Church is clear: the death penalty is inadmissible because it violates the sanctity of life. Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, giving them an inherent dignity. This dignity is never lost, even if someone commits a serious crime.

In our modern world, we have ways to address crime and violence without resorting to more killing. We can keep society safe while honoring the humanity of all.

Where is the death penalty legal?

The United States is a global outlier in its retention of the death penalty. Though a majority of U.S. states have now either formally abolished the death penalty or paused executions, 21 states still have active capital punishment statutes.

How You Can Help

People of faith have a critical role to play in abolishing the death penalty. Will you join us in educating, advocating, and praying for an end to this harmful system?

When an execution date approaches, Catholic advocacy becomes critical. It’s a moment to remind decision makers that all life is sacred, and executions are never just. Will you raise your voice to help stop executions and save lives?

Every year, jurisdictions across the country consider legislation regarding the death penalty. Lawmakers need to hear from their Catholic constituents why abolition is the only way forward. Discover opportunities to take action in your state.

On the First Friday of each month, CMN holds a virtual prayer vigil to lament upcoming executions and bear witness to the sanctity of all human life. Join us to pray alongside Catholic bishops, Church leaders, and allies from the anti-death penalty movement.

Explore CMN’s robust resource library to learn more about the status of the death penalty in the U.S., the impact it has on vulnerable communities, our Catholic opposition, and more.


Death Penalty News

Explore the latest news from CMN plus the national movement to end the death penalty.

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Help CMN end the death penalty

Join our community to educate, advocate, and pray for abolition.