July 2021 Newsletter
Issue #53
Capital Punishment
Globally in 2020, there was a 26% decrease in executions from the year before. This represents the lowest number of executions recorded in the past decade.

However in the U.S., 110 people have been executed over the past 5 years.

In 2020, the Federal government executed 10 people -- more than all federal executions combined since the 1950’s.

Overall 60% of U.S. adults support the death penalty for people convicted of murder.

But 60% of Americans also say life imprisonment is the better punishment, up from 45% in 2014, marking the first time a majority supports life in prison over death penalty.


Views about the death penalty vary by religion. Those who support it:
  • 75% of White evangelical Protestants
  • 73% of White non-evangelical Protestants
  • 53% of Catholics
  • 43% of Agnostics
  • 35% of Atheists


Despite being in favor of capital punishment,
  • 78% of Americans say there is some risk of innocent people being put to death. 
  • 56% say that Black people are more likely than White people to be sentenced to death for committing similar crimes.

  • And 63% say that the death penalty does not deter people from committing serious crimes.
 
Over the past 5 years, Southern states had 92 executions by far the most in the U.S. -- with Texas leading the way with 39.

The states with the highest murder rates are:
Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Alaska, Maryland, Arkansas, South Carolina, Illinois and Tennessee.

Prosecutors in some states have huge leeway to decide who faces the death sentence -- even in cases where the defendant has not killed anyone.

In 2020, the 5 countries with more executions than the U.S. were: China, Iran, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

In 2018, the Vatican announced that it had formally changed the official Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty, calling capital punishment “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and deeming it “inadmissible” in all cases.


For more on Capital Punishment, click here.
Resources
Lessons From Death Row Inmates
A TED Talk, featuring David R. Dow, a lawyer who has represented over 100 death row inmates over 20 years, who asks, "What happens before a murder?" In looking for ways to reduce death penalty cases, he realized that a surprising number of death row inmates had similar biographies. In this talk he proposes a bold plan, one that prevents murders in the first place. Watch now.
For more on Capital Punishment, click here.
Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free: And Other Paradoxes of Our Broken
Legal System
By Judge Jed Rakoff. A senior federal judge and expert on white collar crime, examines some of the paradoxes that define the judiciary today, featuring essays that explore a system of justice that often pressures the innocent to plead guilty and imprisons thousands of poor Black men for relatively modest crimes but rarely prosecutes rich white executives who commit crimes having far greater impact. Illuminates some of our most urgent legal, social, and political issues: plea deals and class-action lawsuits, corporate impunity and the death penalty, the perils of eyewitness testimony and forensic science, the war on terror. Also warns of the expanding reach of the executive branch and a judiciary that is constraining its own constitutional powers. Read more.
For more on the Criminal Justice System,
Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer
A documentary from National Geographic, that chronicles the discovery of a mass grave in Tulsa, Oklahoma and investigates the reign of racial terror and legacy of violence that swept across the United States in the early 20th century. Watch the trailer.
For more on Racism, click here.
Sounds Like Hate
An audio documentary series from the Southern Poverty Law Center, that tells the stories of people and communities grappling with hate and searching for solutions. Focuses on people who have been personally touched by hate, to hear their voices and be immersed in the sounds of their world. Explores the power of people to change — or to succumb to their worst instincts and takes a deep dive into the realities of hate in modern America: how it functions, how it spreads, who is affected and what people are doing about it. Learn more.
For more on Racism, click here.
Japanese American Incarceration Camps
A short, animated TED-Ed Talk featuring Densho, that explores the racism and paranoia that led to the unjust internment of Japanese Americans.
For more on Racism, click here.
The Second:
Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America 
By Carol Anderson. Illuminates the history and impact of the Second Amendment, how it was designed, and how it has consistently been constructed to keep African Americans powerless and vulnerable. It is neither a “pro-gun” nor an “anti-gun” book; the lens is the citizenship rights and human rights of African Americans. Argues that the Second Amendment is not just about guns but about anti-Blackness as well, shedding new light on another dimension of racism in America. Read more.
For more on Gun Violence, click here.
For more on Racism, click here.
Newtown
A documentary from Independent Lens on the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, that took the lives of 20 elementary school children and six educators. Uses deeply personal testimonies to tell the story of the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history. Through interviews with parents, siblings, teachers, doctors, and first responders, the film documents a traumatized community still reeling from the senseless killing, fractured by grief but driven toward a sense of purpose. Watch the trailer.
For more on Gun Violence, click here.
The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town
By Brian Alexander. By following the struggle for survival of one small-town hospital, and the patients who walk, or are carried, through its doors, this book takes readers into the world of the American medical industry. Argues that no plan will solve America’s health crisis until the deeper causes of that crisis are addressed. Reveals Americans’ struggle for health against a powerful system that’s stacked against them, but yet so fragile it blows apart when the pandemic hits. Culminating with COVID-19, this book offers a blueprint for how we created the crisis we're in. Read more. 
For on Health Care, click here.
Creation at the Crossroads
By Edward Ciuba. A small-group faith-sharing resource created through the collaboration of RENEW International, GreenFaith, and the Catholic Climate Covenant. It contains twelve sessions on Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology, "On Care of Our Common Home" and is designed for use in parishes, small groups, religious communities, on college campuses or by individuals. Through Scripture, prayer, reflections, faith-sharing questions, and practical ideas for protecting and caring for God's creation and for God's people, it is designed to move people to faith-based action. Learn more.
For more on the Environment, click here.
Immigration and Faith Cultural, Biblical, and Theological Narratives
By Brett C. Hoover. Describes immigration as an ongoing historical reality that human beings understand through distinct, powerful narratives. Argues that such narratives help various groups of people frame and see migration through a discerning lens. In nations like the United States, with strong immigrant histories, the collision and interweaving of various migration narratives helps to partially explain the ever-shifting tensions and political struggles over immigration. Read more.
For more in Immigration, click here.
The NHP Foundation
A not-for-profit real estate organization dedicated to preserving and creating sustainable, service-enriched multifamily housing that is both affordable to low and moderate income families and seniors, and beneficial to their communities. NHP seeks to promote greater diversity, inclusion and racial equity. Learn more.
For more on Housing, click here.
Women's Business Development Center (WBDC)
A nationally recognized leader in the field of women’s economic development, the WBDC provides programs and services to support and accelerate women’s business ownership and strengthen the impact of women on the economy by creating jobs, fueling economic growth, and building strong communities.
The WBDC is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with additional offices in Minneapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. The organization serves a nine-state Midwest region: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin providing certification, capacity building, and procurement opportunities. Learn more. 
For more on Gender Equality, click here.
Imagine H2O
A non-profit organization founded in 2009 that empowers people to develop and deploy innovation to solve water challenges globally. Programs include: Accelerator, Imagine H20 Asia and the Urban Water Challenge. Learn more.
For more on Water Access, click here.
Scale It Simple
A website with lots of practical resources to simplify one's life in the areas of Home & Living, Self-Care, Wellness, Books and Travel. Also has 31 ideas for each day of the month as well as a downloadable book titled The Year of Living Simply: 12 Months to a Simplified Life. Learn more.
For more Simple Living resources, click here.
How to Have an Enemy:
Righteous Anger and the Work of Peace
By Melissa Florer-Bixler. Looks closely at what the Bible says about enemies--who they are, what they do, and how Jesus and his followers responded to them. The result is a theology that allows us to name our enemies as a form of truth-telling about ourselves, our communities, and the histories in which our lives are embedded. Only then can we grapple with the power of the acts of destruction carried out by our enemies, and invite them to lay down their enmity, opening a path for healing, reconciliation, and unity. Jesus named and confronted his enemies as an essential part to loving them and this book calls us to do the same. Read more. 
(Available July 20)
For more Peace resources, click here.
Prayer
A Prayer to Abolish the Death Penalty
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 for 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 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.
Amen

Sister Helen Prejean CSJ

For more Capital Punishment prayers, click here.

 
Important Dates This Month

Individuals Honored This Month
July 2nd
When you hate, the only person that suffers is you because most of the people you hate don't know it and the rest don't care.
July 2nd
I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…. We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice
but to do better.
July 5th
The Gospel has to grow little feet.
July 6th
Love is the absence of judgment.
July 7th
Peasant people don't have a chance to share in the riches that the planet can offer because some people are taking off so much of the pleasures of this world, and there's only so much to go around.
July 12th
When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.
July 18th
No one is born hating another person because of skin color, background, or religion.
July 25th
Two months ago I had a nice apartment in Chicago. I had a good job. I had a son. When something happened to the Negroes in the South I said, 'That's their business, not mine.' Now I know how wrong I was. I was. The murder of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us, anywhere in the world, had better be the business of us all.
Mamie Till, Emmett's mother
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