Florida Clergy call for Death Penalty Moratorium

As the State Supreme Court has ruled that Florida prosecutors can again seek the death penalty in cases already in progress, members of the Florida Council of Churches are calling on lawmakers to pass a moratium on executions. The Florida Council of Churches includes the Florida Conference on Catholic Bishops and representatives from the African Methodist Church 11th Episcopal District.

The Council met at the State Capitol and urged lawmakers to abolish the death penalty entirely. Rev. Russell Meyer, a Lutheran pastor and executive director of the Florida Council of Churches cited the high cost of death penalty appeals, the possibility of a wrongful conviction as well as moral reasons.  

The group is also advocating criminal justice reform and offering mental health services to criminals.  Rev. Meyer is calling for more civil citations for first time offenders, especially juveniles in order to keep them out of the criminal justice system.  Meyer says, “We need to keep people out of the system and help them repair their lives. “

Bills are pending in the legislative session that begins next month to require a unanimous jury decision to impose the death penalty, which would address the Supreme Court's constitutional concerns.  

Lawmakers are expected to discuss death penalty legislation today and the activists plan to speak up in those hearings.

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