ADVOCATE for an end to the use of the death penalty…
Find out if there are efforts to end the use of the death penalty in your state by contacting your state Catholic conference. To find the website, go to 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 red in the sample letter below provide alternative wording for federal officials.
Contact the Catholic Mobilizing Network for the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty to learn more about what you can do.
Dear __[Governor’s or State or Federal Legislator’s name]___:
I am writing to urge you to take steps to end the use of the death penalty in ___ [state] ____ [the federal criminal justice systems].
Our nation’s founding documents affirm the right to life. As a matter of principle, the government should only end a human life if it is absolutely necessary to protect society. Today, sentences such as “life in prison without parole” make it possible to protect society without having to kill the convicted person. If, as a society, we want to establish that killing is wrong, we cannot do it by killing people who kill people. That is simply too much killing.
Recent studies and new technologies have provided strong evidence against the use of the death penalty. At least 130 people from 26 states have been exonerated from death row after evidence of innocence was found. Studies in state after state have 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).
There is also 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 by states across the country show that geography plays a role in who lives and dies. A similar murder might receive 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.
__[State]___ [We] can help end the culture of violence that impacts so many of our communities by demonstrating that we will not end a human life if we have alternative means to protect society from violent crime. I urge you to work to end the use of the death penalty in [state] [the United States].