The Catholic Church upholds that serving persons who are affected by incarceration extends beyond direct ministry. There is certainly great need for the charitable works involved in prison and jail ministries. There is also great need for advocating to create social structures that are more just. The significance of advocacy and social justice are especially prevalent in the rich history of Catholic social teaching.

Looking for ministries involved in this work?

Jesuit Social Research Institute

The mission of JSRI is work to transform the Gulf South through action research, analysis, education, and advocacy on the core issues of race, poverty, and migration.


Testifying at Louisiana legislative hearings on criminal justice bills– especially hearings having to do with the death penalty.

Email List

Engaging persons on our email list in criminal justice reform advocacy emails and phone calls to elected officials and policymakers.


Op-eds to local newspapers.


Resolutions and sign-on letters for people of faith on criminal justice reform issues.


Organizing Catholic Teach-Ins on Mass Incarceration at local parishes and universities in an effort to create a “culture of encounter” with formerly incarcerated people.

Prison Policy Initiative

Prison Policy Initiative is a non-partisan non-profit that uses research and data analysis to reveal the ways that mass criminalization and mass incarceration harm individuals, communities, and society as a whole.  


Advocacy campaigns address topics including jails and bail, probation and parole, prison gerrymandering, racial justice, and public health.


Comprehensive investigations into issues that prevent a more just and humane criminal justice system nationally and in individual states.


Data toolbox that offers critical information on national and state criminal justice issues. 


Newsletters provide latest updates on research and information on advocacy campaigns.  

Legal Resources

Extensive legal resource database for persons who are incarcerated. 

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Not only are we responsible for the safety and well-being of our family and our next-door neighbor, but Christian solidarity demands that we work for justice beyond our boundaries.

- U.S. Catholic bishops: Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration (2000) -

Catholic Mobilizing Network

CMN is the national organization that mobilizes Catholics and all people of goodwill to value life over death, to end the use of the death penalty, to transform the U.S. criminal justice system from punitive to restorative, and to build capacity in U.S. society to engage in restorative practices.

Through education, advocacy, and prayer, CMN expresses the fundamental belief that all those who have caused or been impacted by crime should be treated with dignity. CMN works in close collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and lives the Spirit of Unity of its sponsor, the Congregation of St. Joseph.

Mercy In Action

CMN’s Mercy in Action Project gives YOU the tools you need to promote clemency for those on death row. Subscribe to receive a monthly email alert about upcoming executions which include resources for prayer and advocacy. 

Faith & Action First Fridays

Fridays hold special significance in the Catholic tradition. Christ was crucified on a Friday, and first Friday devotions have been observed for hundreds of years. Catholic Mobilizing Network created Faith & Action First Fridays as a way to bring Christ’s mercy to the broken system of capital punishment. Subscribe today to receive an email every first Friday of each month for a new selection of timely and impactful resources for education, advocacy, and prayer.

How to Write a Letter the Editor

Want to write a letter to the editor (LTE) but not sure where to start? Look no further! CMN’s step-by-step guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to write and submit an LTE in response to a published article regarding an execution, a legislative push, a death penalty-related statement from an elected official or an event of issue in the community.

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As people of faith and as citizens, we are called to become involved in civil society and to advocate for policies that reflect our values.

- U.S. Catholic bishops: Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration (2000) -

Jesuit Conference:
Office of Justice and Ecology

The Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology is the advocacy voice of the Society of Jesus in Canada and the United States. Current advocacy priorities include: care for creation, criminal justice reform, economic justice, and just migration policies.  

Our criminal justice reform advocacy is rooted in the experiences of those served by Jesuit ministries like Homeboy Industries, the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative, Thrive for Life, Jesuit college university initiatives, Jesuit prison chaplaincy programs, and many others.   

Current policy priorities include: bail reform, sentencing reform, reentry funding, educational grants for incarcerated individuals, and ending the death penalty.  Sign up on our website for periodic policy updates and opportunities to engage your elected officials on criminal justice reform. Read through “School and Community Training Guide: Advocacy 101″ created in collaboration with the Ignatian Solidarity Network.  

Root & Rebound Reentry Advocates

Root & Rebound is a national legal advocacy organization with offices in California and South Carolina that serves people most harmed by mass incarceration and the War on Drugs. 

Through its three-pronged program model, Root and Rebound focuses on restoring and protecting rights, dignity, and opportunities for people directly impacted by the criminal justice system.  

  • Educate: Create guides, toolkits, online materials, and self-help tools not only for people directly impacted but for the infrastructure of agencies that can better support them, including state-based and nationally applicable resources.
  • Advocate: Advocate for the protection and restoration of the rights of people with records and past court involvement, so that they can access basic necessities including employment, housing, and family reunification. Operate a free statewide Reentry Legal Hotline in California, conduct statewide and local reentry legal clinics in California and South Carolina, and lead deep and impactful court representation.
  • Reform: Policy advocacy work seeks to eliminate barriers to self-sufficiency and success for people with criminal records while amplifying the voices of people most impacted, creating a feedback loop of information and thought partnership from clients to policymakers. 
Advocacy 1

As Catholics, we need to ask the following: How can we restore our respect for law and life? How can we protect and rebuild communities, confront crime without vengeance, and defend life without taking life?

- U.S. Catholic bishops: Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration (2000) -

Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA)

The CCUSA Advocacy and Social Policy team advocates for policies that uphold human dignity and promote integral human development. Informed by the experience of local Catholic Charities agencies, we urge policy makers to see the faces of those in need in their communities and to create policies which assist and support them. 

The CCUSA Advocacy and Social Policy team offers resources to advocate for persons who are marginalized in society including: 

  • Washington Weekly e-newsletter that includes Advocacy Alerts
  • Recent letters and statements
  • Policy briefs
  • Policy Papers 
  • Sample Op-eds
Advocacy 1

Any system of penal justice must provide those necessities that enable inmates to live in dignity: food, clothing, shelter, personal safety, timely medical care, education, and meaningful work adequate to the conditions of human dignity.

- U.S. Catholic bishops: Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration (2000) -

Jesuit Refugee Services

Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) expresses the commitment of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) to stand with refugees and other displaced people in more than 50 countries around the world. JRS/USA serves forcibly displaced migrants in the US through our Detention Chaplaincy Program.

The Jesuit Refugee Service/USA chaplaincy program provides pastoral and religious assistance to meet the needs of non-citizens detained by the Department of Homeland Security in five US federal detention centers.  JRS/USA also organizes supporters to raise awareness and advocate on behalf of refugees around the world and represents forcibly displaced people to Congress and US Government officials.

Walk a Mile In My Shoes

While no one can fully comprehend the experience of being forced from your home and living as a refugee, this resource provides individuals with a starting point of empathy. To access the resource, please click here. 

Refugee Action Team

A JRS Refugee Action Team can be created at a school, college campus, or a parish, and seeks to form individuals as a community dedicated to supporting our displaced brothers and sisters. To access the resource, please click here. 

JRS/USA Continues to Support People Detained by DHS

Inside a Federal Detention Center

Take Action - Protect Asylum and Refugee Resettlement

The U.S. Government has taken steps to restrict the ability of asylum seekers and refugees to seek critical protections, reserved for the most vulnerable. 

Click here and act now to urge Congress to protect the U.S. asylum system and refugee resettlement program.

Detention Prayer Resource

The work of JRS is one of gratitude to accompany those displaced on their journey. Their resilience and strength can be seen and understood through this prayer of gratitude. To access the resource, please click here. 

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The treatment of migrants challenges the consciences of elected officials, policymakers, enforcement officers, residents of border communities, and providers of legal aid and social services, many of whom share our Catholic faith.

- US and mexican catholic bishops: Strangers no longer: together on the journey of hope (2003) -

Justice for Immigrants

The Justice for Immigrants (JFI) campaign stems from the 2003 Mexican-U.S. bishops joint pastoral letter, Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope.  

The JFI campaign’s primary objectives are:

  • To educate the public, especially the Catholic community, about Church teaching on migration; 
  • To create political will for just and humane immigration reform; 
  • To advocate for dignified and fair reforms in immigration and refugee laws and policies that reflect the principles enunciated by the bishops.

Immigration Detention in the U.S.

While no one can fully comprehend the experience of being forced from your home and living as a refugee, this resource provides individuals with a starting point of empathy. To access the resource, please click here

Family Detention

To learn more about why immigrants are detained, as well as the Catholic response to detention, please click here to access this backgrounder. 

Unlocking Human Dignity

To read the USCCB report titled “Unlocking Human Dignity: A Plan to Transform the U.S. Immigrant Detention System: A 2015 Joint Report of Migration and Refugee Services/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and The Center for Migration Studies,” please click here.