After eighteen months with no executions in our state, Mark Asay is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, August 24, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. The inconsistent and arbitrary application of the death penalty has only become more apparent since Florida’s most recent execution in January 2016. Defendants whose death sentences were finalized after June 2002 have been considered eligible for resentencing hearings. Yet, those, like Mr. Asay, sentenced prior to that date – but under the same unconstitutional system – have been denied relief.
In an August 21 letter on behalf of the bishops of Florida, Michael Sheedy, executive director, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, appealed to Governor Rick Scott to commute Asay’s death sentence to a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Asay received two death sentences for the 1987 murders of Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell. “Indeed, Mr. Asay’s violent acts call out for justice and should be condemned,” said Sheedy. “However, life without parole is an alternative and severe sentence. We hold that if non-lethal means are available to keep society safe from an aggressor, then authority must limit itself to such means.” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2267)
All life is sacred. Even those who have committed terrible deeds and caused great pain possess a God-given dignity that is neither earned nor can it be forfeited. We are, therefore, called to be consistently pro-life, protecting life in all of its forms and all of its stages.
We urge you to take the following two actions to support human life and dignity.
Pray: Catholic faithful and members of the community will gather around the state to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for those on death row, and for an end to the use of the death penalty. Click here to find locations and times of prayer vigils in your area.
Contact Governor Scott: Please send a message to Governor Scott urging him to commute Mark Asay’s death sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole and to stop signing death warrants.