Nebraska's bishops on Friday issued a statement opposing the execution of Carey Dean Moore, whose execution date has been set for Aug. 14.
“Our society has a pervasive culture of violence and death which can only be transformed by a counter-culture of justice and mercy,” read a July 6 statement issued by Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, and Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt of Grand Island.
“Each time we consider applying capital punishment, Nebraska has an opportunity to respond to an act of violence with an act of mercy that does not endanger public safety or compromise the demands of justice.”
“There is no doubt the state has the responsibility to administer just punishment,” the bishops wrote. “However, given our modern prison system, the execution of Carey Dean Moore is not necessary to fulfill justice and, for that reason, would undermine respect for human life.”
The bishops said that “We continue to offer our sincerest prayers for all victims and those affected by the heinous crimes of Mr. Moore, and we pray for his conversion of heart.”
Nebraska has not executed a prisoner in 21 years, and capital punishment has been a contentious issue in the state's legislature in recent years.
Moore's execution date was set July 5 by the Nebraska Supreme Court. Moore, 60, has been on death row 38 years, the longest of the state's 12 death row inmates. He was sentenced for the 1979 murders of two cab drivers, Reuel Van Ness, Jr. and Maynard Helgeland.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports that Moore will be executed by injection of diazepam, fentanyl citrate, cisatracurium besylate, and potassium chloride. Moore's execution would be the first lethal injection in Nebraska; most recently, the state utilized the electric chair.
Nebraska's store of potassium chloride is due to expire at the end of August.
A district judge ruled in June that the state had to release records of its communications with the supplier of its lethal injection drugs, but the decision was appealed and there records remain private.
Moore has chosen not to appeal his execution.
Capital punishment was abolished by Nebraska's unicameral legislature in 2015, overriding a veto by Gov. Pete Ricketts. But state voters reinstated the practice 2016 in a ballot measure by a vote of about 61 percent.
“We express our disappointment that the death penalty will be reinstated in Nebraska,” Nebraska’s three bishops said in a joint statement Nov. 9, 2016. “We will continue to call for the repeal of the death penalty when it is not absolutely necessary to protect the public safety.”