The bishops note that in submitting clemency applications for the condemned they have seen cases of racial disparity, inequity of sentencing, well-documented cases of mental illness, or life-long intellectual disability. Yet the bishops’ pleas for mercy have been ignored. The bishops note that these cases rarely represent the “worst of the worst” that the death penalty was intended for, but are evidence of a flawed system.
The bishops’ letter includes a reference to Pope Francis’ recent statements against the use of the death penalty and his call for models of human justice to show mercy and the opportunity for rehabilitation. Their letter also references Pope John Paul II’s challenge that we be “unconditionally pro-life” even for the person who has committed murder.
The letter ends with a call for statewide officials to take a stand for “life, mercy, and justice” and begin to take steps to end the use of the death penalty.