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The Prison Complex

Tuesday, Sep 29, 2015, 5:00 pm

Georgia Denies Kelly Gissendaner Clemency Despite Pope’s Pleas

By George Lavender

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Georgia’s board of pardons and paroles has denied clemency to Kelly Gissendaner, despite pleas to spare her life delivered by her children and Pope Francis.

Gissendaner is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 7pm for her part in the 1997 murder of her husband. The board met today to hear from her eldest son Brandon, but upheld its decision to deny clemency.

The intervention from the Pope comes a week after he told a joint session of Congress he opposed the death penalty “since every life is sacred.” The letter, written on the Pope’s behalf by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano read:

“While not wishing to minimize the gravity of the crime for which Ms Gissendaner has been convicted, and while sympathizing with the victims, I nonetheless implore you, in consideration of the reasons that have been expressed to your board, to commute the sentence to one that would better express both justice and mercy,”

Gissendaner’s previous execution date was postponed in March after the drugs to be used in the lethal injection appeared “cloudy.” She is one of three death row inmates in three different states scheduled to die this week.  

George Lavender is an award-winning radio and print journalist based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @GeorgeLavender.

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