The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to spare the life of convicted Tampa Bay serial rapist and murderer Bobby Joe Long.

In a letter to the governor, the bishops asked DeSantis to commute Long’s sentence to life in prison, specifically pointing out mitigating circumstances in Long’s case.

The letter reads, in part:

Since his sentencing, modern medicine has learned a great deal about the effects of brain trauma. His attorneys have filed briefs that call attention to the multiple traumas he experienced throughout his life, including the motorcycle accident he suffered in 1974. That incident profoundly affected him and his behaviors. It contributed to his receiving a disability rating from the military, from which he was honorably discharged.

The letter goes on to say that the bishops would be asking for life in prison without these circumstances, and pointed to Pope Francis’s recent request to change the catechism of the Catholic church to reflect this position.

“The death penalty is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person and denies the
possibility of redemption,” the letter said.

8 On Your Side has been selected as one of the media outlets to witness Long’s execution, which is scheduled for Thursday night at 6 p.m. by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison in Raiford.

Florida Department of Correction policy states at least one reporter “must represent a news organization that covers the county in which the condemned inmate committed the crime for which he or she was sentenced to death.”

Churches throughout the Catholic dioceses in Florida will be gathering over the coming days to pray for Long.

The locations of those prayer vigils in the Tampa Bay area are listed below.

  • St. Vincent de Paul Parish
    4843 Mile Stretch Drive, Holiday
    May 22 at 4 p.m.
    Followed by evening prayer and benediction
  • Spirit FM 90.5 WBVM Tampa will be praying on air
    May 23 at 5:50 p.m.
    Spirit FM is also available online