Bishops press for clemency

Published June 1, 2003

The bishops of episcopal dioceses in Florida and the World Council of Churches are pressuring Florida Governor Jeb Bush to grant clemency to Lionel Tate, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for a crime he committed when he was 12 years old.

WCC general secretary Konrad Raiser appealed to the governor in a letter to exercise clemency in the case. Mr. Raiser endorsed the request of the Anglican bishops and said the punishment “is not only harsh but also fails to take into consideration his tender age.”

The bishops also wrote to Governor Bush; requesting clemency for the now 14-year-old who was sentenced in March to life in prison, without parole, for the beating death of a six-year-old playmate.

“We are not excusing his actions,” the bishops’ letter says, “but we believe the judgment is disproportionate in the case of a minor and punishment is cruel and unusual.

“We are appealing to your humanity for a less harsh treatment of this young boy. The eyes of the world are upon us, and by exercising clemency we would be demonstrating our ability to work toward redemption and rehabilitation rather than vengeance.”


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