Florida’s 99th execution set for Thursday

Ken Piorkowski / CC BY-SA 2.0 / MGN
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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
August 21, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- 40 years ago, on May 25, 1979, Florida ended a 15-year hiatus on executions.

Public protest over executions has quieted considerably since they resumed in 1979.

Gary Ray Bowles has killed at least six people.

All were violent.

He clearly fits the criteria set by Governor Ron DeSantis for using the ultimate penalty.

“I’m supportive of it for the most serious offenses,” said DeSantis in March.

Unless stopped, Bowles death Thursday evening will be the state’s 99th execution since the death penalty was reinstated.

“There are specific concerns with this case,” said Ingrid Delgado with the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Catholic Conference has called on the governor to stop the execution, arguing Florida is safe with Bowles behind bars.

Testimony also shows the 57-year-old was abused.

“He suffered extreme violence at the hands of his step fathers,” said Delgado. "When he escaped that violence, he was a victim of homelessness and child prostitution, and we know that through neural scientific research that adverse traumatic experiences do affect future behavior.”

While it has taken 40 years for the state to get to its 99th execution, it did execute nearly twice as many, 196, between 1924 and 1964 when it went on a hiatus.

In 1979, the Capitol was awash in protests for over a week pending the first execution in a decade and a half.

But unlike 40 years ago, fewer than a dozen are expected to protest the execution and pay their respects to the victims when they gather in the Capitol rotunda Friday.

First Lady Casey DeSantis has cancelled a Thursday appearance at a Women for Trump Rally in Tampa.

The governor’s office said the appearance was cancelled out of respect for the victims.

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