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Catholic bishops urge Ron DeSantis to commute Gary Ray Bowles’ death sentence

The Catholic Church has long advocated to end the death penalty.

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to commute Gary Ray Bowles‘ death sentence to life in prison.

Bowles, set to be executed Thursday for the 1994 murder of Walter Hinton, also pleaded guilty to five other murders and is serving life sentences for two of them, the Conference explained in a news release.

In a letter released Monday, Michael Sheedy – executive director of the conference – told DeSantis “intentionally ending Mr. Bowles’ life is unnecessary.”

“Society can remain safe from any future violent actions of his through life-long incarceration,” Sheedy said. “Premeditated, state-sanctioned homicide of Mr. Bowles would only perpetuate the cycle of violence that victimized him, and which he later perpetuated.”

Sheedy “acknowledged that Bowles’ actions caused grievous harm to the victims, their loved ones, and the community (and) noted Bowles’ history of childhood trauma as a victim of abuse, homelessness, and child prostitution,” an accompanying news release said.

Here’s more from the release:

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 full letter is below.

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