Florida's Catholic bishops have urged the governor to end the death penalty ahead of the execution of serial killer Oscar Ray Bolin, scheduled to take place today.
Pointing to Govenor Rick Scott's support for many pro-life causes, the executive director of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, Michael Sheedy, urged him to "recognize that the life of each person has dignity and should be respected, even those who have done great harm."
Writing on behalf of Florida's Catholic bishops on 5 January, Sheedy said: "Our society is increasingly aware of the flaws in the application of the death penalty, which is inconsitent and too often applied in error."
"Florida was one in only six states to carry out executions last year, and continues to lead the nations in the number of death row exonerations," he added.
Catholics across Florida are planning to gather today to pray for Bolin, his victims and their families and for an end to capital punishment.
Bolin is scheduled to be put to death at 6pm this evening for the murder of Teri Lynn Mathews in December 1986.
He has also been convicted of the murder of two other young women, Stephanie Collins and Natalie Holley, in the same year.
In an interview with Fox 13 News yesterday, Bolin denied that he was guilty.
"I did not murder these women," Bolin said. "My conscience is clear. Florida's just killing me. [The families] are not getting any peace by executing me tomorrow."
Matthews' mother, Kathleen Reeves, said Bolin's execution will bring a sense of closure, however.
"It's been so long. The pain doesn't change," she said. "It's just time for it. It's due. It's past due."