Find out if there are efforts to end the use of the death penalty in your state by contacting your state Catholic conference through the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors
Even if there are no pending bills or other efforts to end the use of the death penalty in your state, you can still contact your governor or state legislators and urge them to initiate steps to end the use of the death penalty. A sample letter is provided below.
Write your U.S. Senators and Representative urging them to support efforts to stop the federal use of the death penalty. The sections in italics in the sample letter below provide alternative wording for federal officials.
Contact the Catholic Mobilizing Network to learn more about what you can do.
[Recipient’s Street Address]
[Recipient’s City, State, Zip]
Dear [Governor’s or State or Federal Legislator’s name]:
I am writing to urge you to take definitive steps to end the use of the death penalty in [State or "the federal criminal justice system"]. We can both protect society from violence and promote a culture that respects all human life without resorting to state-sanctioned executions.
Our nation’s founding documents affirm the right to life. Today, sentences such as life in prison without parole make it possible to protect society without having to kill a person convicted of violent crime. If, as a society, we wish to affirm that killing is wrong, we cannot do this by killing more people.
Recent studies and new technologies have provided strong evidence against the use of the death penalty. Since 1973, at least 130 people from 26 states have been exonerated from death row after evidence of innocence was found. Between 2000 and 2011, there has been an average of 5 exonerations per year (Death Penalty Information Center, Fact Sheet 2012).
Studies in state after state have also shown that the death penalty is more costly than alternative sentences. For example, the California death penalty system costs taxpayers $114 million per year more than it would cost to keep the same convicted criminals in prison for life (L.A. Times, March 6, 2005).
Additionally, there is strong evidence that the death penalty is applied unfairly. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, over 90% of those on death row in the United States were too poor to afford their own attorney. Studies in states across the country have shown that geography plays a key role in who lives and dies. Similar cases might result in a death sentence in one county but not in a nearby county. According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, over 80% of those executed in the U.S. were convicted of killing a white person, even though African Americans are the victims in at least half of all homicides.
In [State], we can help end the culture of violence and death that impacts so many of our communities by demonstrating that we will not end a human life if there are alternative and effective means to protect society from violent crime. I urge you to work to end the use of the death penalty in [state or "the United States"].
[Your Street Address]
[Your City, State, Zip]