Faith Leaders Oppose the Execution of Duane Owen
Duane Owen is scheduled to be executed in Florida on Thursday, June 15, at 6 pm. We ask that Faith Leaders from around the world join together, sign this letter, and urge Governor DeSantis and the Florida Board of Executive Clemency Board to Stay the Execution of Duane Owen. Every signature makes a difference.
Dear Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Board of Executive Clemency,
We, the undersigned faith leaders reflecting a rich diversity of faith traditions, stand together to urge you to stay the execution of Duane Owen, and commute his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
We firmly believe that Duane should be separated from society and held accountable for his actions. We simply pray that in doing so, we do not lose sight of the humanity and compassion that our faiths teach us to honor.
In our congregations, we are frequently in contact with crime victims and survivors, convicted criminals and their family members, lawyers, judges, police, correctional officers, and others who give us a unique view into the complexities of the criminal justice system. We feel deeply the pain and grief of our church members when violence or loss of life is visited upon them. We are guided by the biblical teachings that call for a community “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Duane was sent to death row at the age of 23. Duane was born to alcoholic parents. His mother died of cancer, and shortly afterward, his father committed suicide when Duane was a young adolescent. He was then sent to an orphanage where he was sexually and physically abused. He was forced to have sex with a 35-year-old childcare director, who was supposed to protect him. Without intervention or treatment, he developed serious mental illness, which formed the basis of his insanity defense at trial.
Two jurors in both of his trials found the limited evidence they heard about his childhood trauma and mental health mitigation compelling enough to vote for Duane to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
By commuting Duane Owen's sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole, you will send a message that the State of Florida cares about protecting people with serious mental illness, and child survivors of sexual abuse, even those who commit horrific crimes.
As faith leaders, we believe that our justice system should be used to improve life, not destroy it. Our system must be humane and hold life sacred, while taking every step possible to support and facilitate the healing of victims.