International Day for the Abolition of the Death Penalty

March 1st is the International Day for the Abolition of the Death Penalty. Did you know that:
  • The US is the only Western democracy that continues to use the death penalty.
  • The US, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia account for over 80% of executions worldwide.
  • Approximately 3,500 inmates are on death row in 38 state and federal prisons.
  • Since 1973 more than 100 death row inmates have been exonerated.
  • Since 1973 at least 23 innocent people have been mistakenly executed, and later proven innocent.
  • Recent Supreme Court decisions have limited the use of the death penalty against persons with mental retardation and juveniles under age 18.

The US Catholic Bishops have been calling for an end to the Death Penalty since 1980. You can read their statements here if you want more info.

Prayer to Abolish the Death Penalty
by Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ
God of Compassion,
You let your rain fall on the just and the unjust.
Expand and deepen our hearts
so that we may love as You love,
even those among us who have caused
the greatest pain by taking life.
For there is in our land
a great cry to take vengeance
as we fill up death rows
and kill the killers in the name of justice,
in the name of peace.
Jesus, our brother,
you suffered execution at the hands of the state
but you did not let hatred overcome you.
Help us to reach out to victims of violence
so that our enduring love may help them heal.
Holy Spirit of God,
You strengthen us in the struggle for justice.
Help us to work tirelessly for the abolition
of state-sanctioned death
and to renew our society in its very heart
so that violence will be no more.

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