Emphasizing that capital punishment is not a justifiable penalty for crime, Florida’s Catholic bishops have asked the state governor to reduce the death sentence of inmate Jerry Correll, who is scheduled to be executed on Thursday.
“Everyone, even people who have caused great harm, possesses a human dignity that is sacred. State-sanctioned killing is unwarranted, promotes vengeance rather than justice, and reinforces a growing disrespect for the sacredness of all human life,” the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops said Oct. 27.
They appealed to Florida Governor Rick Scott to reduce the sentence to life in prison without parole.
Death penalty is an absolute failure. It does not deter crime, it prolongs the suffering of the families of murdered victims, and it perpetuates the cycle of violence.
Ending the death penalty is the moral thing to do, a recognition that all human life has dignity, and that even the most seemingly irredeemable souls can be rehabilitated.
Correll was convicted in the 1985 murders of his ex-wife, their five-year-old daughter, and his ex-wife’s mother and sister.
His execution had been scheduled for February but was delayed pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision about the use of the drug midazolam in executions, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The court approved the use of the drug in July.
Florida’s bishops said Correll deserved “a befitting punishment” but not execution. They cited Pope Francis’ call for an end to the death penalty in his Sept. 24 address to a joint meeting of Congress during his U.S. visit.
The pope had said” every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”
The bishops added: “through advances in our penal system, the state can keep society safe from an aggressor and justice can be served without resorting to the deliberate taking of a person’s life.”
Florida’s bishops also announced multiple Catholic and interfaith prayer vigils against the death penalty in the week ahead of the scheduled execution.