Tallahassee, Fla., Aug 22, 2017 / 15:27 pm
An imminent execution scheduled for this week is the wrong path, said Florida’s Catholic bishops, urging the governor of the state to intervene.
“We hold that if non-lethal means are available to keep society safe from an aggressor, then authority must limit itself to such,” said Michael B. Sheedy, executive director of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. He called life without parole “an alternative and severe sentence.”
Sheedy’s comments came in an Aug. 21 letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott asking him to commute the sentence of Mark James Asay.
Asay is scheduled to be executed Thursday, Aug. 24. He was convicted in 1988 and sentenced to death for the 1987 murders of Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell in Jacksonville, Florida.
Florida Supreme Court justices lifted a stay on Asay’s execution in December, the Miami Herald reports.
Sheedy said the murders were “heinous” and “call out for justice and should be condemned.” However, the 18 months since Florida’s last execution have made more apparent the “inconsistent and arbitrary” application of the death penalty, he added.
He pointed to the resentencing hearings given to defendants whose death sentences were finalized after June 2002 after the system was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2016. Asay, however, has been denied legal relief.
Sheedy invoked the governor’s pro-life stand on abortion and other issues, saying the death penalty too deserves the application of pro-life principles.