Florida Bishops Urge Stay of Execution

Say Better Option Exists for Punishing Offender

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida, NOV. 14, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Bishops of the Florida Catholic Conference are urging the state's governor to stay the execution scheduled for Thursday of a man convicted of killing an 11-year-old boy.



In a statement published today, the bishops urged Governor Charlie Cist to halt the execution of Mark Dean Schwab, noting that more than a dozen stays of execution have been granted since the beginning of October.

"At this time, while the U.S. Supreme Court is considering the case of Baze v. Rees to determine whether the drug combination used in lethal injection executions is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, it seems both prudent and judicious for you to follow the example of another governor and many state and federal courts," the bishops wrote.

The prelates said they oppose the use of the death penalty, given "the option of life in prison without possibility of parole, that will punish the offender and keep society safe."

"Incarceration for life is a severe punishment, allows the possibility of conversion for the wrong doer, and gives us the opportunity to forgive their wrong doings," the bishops said. "Killing those who have harmed others only perpetuates the use of violence in society.

"We express our sincere sympathy to the family and loved ones of the victim […] Carrying out the death penalty for Mark Dean Schwab will not compensate for their loss and encourages vengeance rather than forgiveness."

Schwab, 38, was sentenced to death in 1992.

The bishops concluded by affirming "state-sanctioned killing coarsens us all."

"It is only when society cannot be protected in any other way that the death penalty is justified," they explained. "We urge you to lead Florida toward a standard of decency that calls us to turn away from killing as a solution for crime."