TALLAHASSEE, FL (May 20, 2019) – Robert Joseph “Bobby Joe” Long is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, May 23 at 6:00 p.m. for the 1984 murder of Michelle Sims. Long additionally pled guilty to, and received life sentences for, seven other murders.
In a May 20 letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Michael Sheedy, executive director, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked the governor to commute Long’s death sentence to a life sentence without parole. “Although he caused much harm, society has been safe from his aggressive acts in the decades of his incarceration,” said Sheedy. “Without taking his life, society can be protected while he endures the alternative sentence of life without the possibility of parole.”
Sheedy encouraged DeSantis to promote a consistent pro-life ethic in our state. “The cycle of violence – to which Mr. Long’s acts have contributed – must end. His execution would only perpetuate it,” said Sheedy.
The Catholic Church has long advocated for an end to the use of the death penalty. Preceding each execution for nearly four decades, the Florida bishops have urged governors to commute the sentence of the condemned to life in prison. This is the first death warrant signed by Gov. DeSantis.
Prior to Long’s scheduled execution, Catholic faithful and members of the community will gather across Florida to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for those on death row, for the governor as he confronts the decision to proceed with the execution, and for an end to the use of the death penalty.