“Todos los cristianos y hombres de buena voluntad están llamadas hoy a trabajar no sólo por la abolición de la pena de muerte, sino también para mejorar las condiciones de las cárceles, en el respeto de la dignidad humana de las personas privadas de libertad.” - Papa Francisco
The death penalty has been present in Indiana for much of the state’s history. Death penalty laws were part of Indiana’s legislation and culture even before Indiana was granted statehood in 1816. Hangings were fairly frequent in the 1800’s, and in some cases public hangings resulted in violent mobs that killed the inmate even before they were hung. This changed with the introduction of the electric chair, which became the primary method of execution in 1913 and lasted until 1995, when it was replaced by lethal injection. The death penalty is still used, but executions have been limited in number since reinstatement in 1973, with less than 25 executions.
While the death penalty in Indiana had been historically imposed by a judge, in 2002 the law was changed to now have sentencing by jury with the judge intervening only if the jury cannot unanimously agree on the death sentence.
Indiana also hosts the Federal Correctional Complex, where the death row for the federal government is located. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in the state, three federal prisoners have been executed, including the convicted mastermind of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy McVeigh.
For more information and ways to get involved, contact your state's organizations:
The Hoosier Alliance for Serious Mental Illness Exemption (HASMIE) is working to pass a Severe Mental Illness (SMI) Exemption bill in Indiana. HASMIE has educational tools and resources to learn more as well as contact local legislatures.
The Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Indiana regarding state and national matters. The ICC also provides a source to which public inquiry can be made about the position of the Church on matters affecting the common good.
The Indiana Information Center on the Abolition of Capital Punishment (IICACP) exists to expose the injustice associated with the application of the death penalty in Indiana. IICACP is open to anyone who is opposed to the death penalty.