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Florida bishops: Urge governor to spare life of Gary Ray Bowles

Murderer's execution, set for Aug. 22, 'is unnecessary'

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TALLAHASSEE | The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, the nonpartisan, public policy voice of Florida's bishops, issued the following "action alert" Aug. 19, 2019. 

BACKGROUND: Gary Ray Bowles is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. for the 1994 murder of Walter Hinton. Bowles additionally pled guilty to five other murders and is serving life sentences for two of them.

In a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Michael Sheedy, executive director, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, acknowledged that Bowles’ actions caused grievous harm to the victims, their loved ones, and the community. Sheedy also noted Bowles’ history of childhood trauma as a victim of abuse, homelessness, and child prostitution.

Urging the governor to stay the scheduled execution, Sheedy writes, “Intentionally ending Mr. Bowles’ life is unnecessary. Society can remain safe from any future violent actions of his through life-long incarceration without parole. Premeditated, state-sanctioned homicide of Mr. Bowles would only perpetuate the cycle of violence that victimized him, and which he later perpetuated.”

The Catholic Church has long advocated for an end to the use of the death penalty. Preceding each execution for nearly four decades, the Florida bishops have urged governors to commute the sentence of the condemned to life in prison. This is the second death warrant signed by Gov. DeSantis.

Prior to Bowles’ scheduled execution, Catholic faithful and members of the community will gather across Florida to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for those on death row, for the governor as he confronts the decision to proceed with the execution, and for an end to the use of the death penalty.

The Archdiocese of Miami will hold prayer services Aug. 22:

  • In front of the Key West Courthouse, on the corner of Whitehead and Southard Streets, Key West, from 5 to 6 p.m. Contact: Patrice Schwermer, 305-807-4503 or [email protected]
  • At St. Martha Church, 9401 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami Shores, following 11:45 a.m. Mass. Contact: Deacon Edgardo Farias at 305-764-5019 or [email protected].

TAKE ACTION

Please take the following two actions in support of human life and dignity.

PRAY:
  • Catholic faithful and members of the community will gather across the state to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for those on death row, for an end to the use of the death penalty, and for Governor DeSantis as he confronts the decision to proceed with the execution. Find locations and times of prayer vigils in your area.
CONTACT GOVERNOR DESANTIS:

FIND OUT MORE

Additional recent commentary on the death penalty by Florida bishops:

 

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