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Capital Punishment and Nurses’ Participation in Capital Punishment

ANA Position Statement

Effective: 2024
Status: Revised Position Statement
Written by: ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights
Adopted by: ANA Board of Directors

The purpose of this position statement is twofold. First, to address the role of nurses in capital punishment, also referred to as the death penalty. Second, to express the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) overall views on capital punishment. Since 1983, ANA has held that nurses should not assume any role in the capital punishment of an incarcerated individual. In 2016, this position statement extended the opposition to capital punishment.

Statement of ANA Position
ANA opposes both capital punishment and nurse participation in capital punishment. Participation in executions, either directly or indirectly, is viewed as contrary to the fundamental goals and ethical traditions of the nursing profession. The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements (Code) (ANA, 2015) brings to the forefront the importance of the nursing profession’s taking a stance against any action that is contrary to the respect for human dignity of all individuals. Since ANA represents individual nurses, the professional organization must communicate to the public the values nurses consider central to the nursing profession (Code, Interpretive Statement 9.1). Within Code Provisions 8 and 9 (ANA, 2015), the principles of social justice speak to the importance of the nursing profession’s taking a stance against the death penalty due to the preponderance of evidence against the fair application and effectiveness of capital punishment as a deterrent.


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