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0 In Blog/ Capital Punishment/ Social Justice

OPEN LETTER TO GREG ABBOTT & THE TEXAS BOARD OF PARDONS AND PAROLE

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Update July 15, 2016: Ramiro Gonzales’ execution date has been withdrawn and rescheduled to November 2nd, 2016.

July 12, 2016

Governor Greg Abbott
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

RE:  Clemency Request for Ramiro Gonzales #999513 (Execution set for August 10th, 2016)

Dear Governor Abbott,

My name is Bri-anne Swan.  I am a resident of Toronto, Ontario and a friend of Ramiro Gonzales (#999513).  I will be one of his five allotted witnesses if his execution is carried out on August 10th, 2016.

I am writing to ask for clemency for Mr. Gonzales and a commutation of his sentence.  

Admittedly, I have had the privilege of only knowing the best of Ramiro, while the family of Bridget Townsend has only been exposed to his worst.  Ramiro murdered Bridget when he was only two months past his 18th birthday.  While the crime he committed was heinous, the man who is set to be executed is not the same boy who killed Bridget 15 years ago.  18 year old Ramiro was broken, hopeless and severely addicted to drugs — substances he turned to as a teenager to cope with the loss of a beloved aunt and years of sexual abuse by a male relative.  33 year old Ramiro is a gentle and kind man who has a deeply spiritual life.  He has created artwork for my four year old son.  He has listened and provided advice during my own life’s challenges.  He continues to positively touch the lives of those with whom he corresponds around the world. 

Ramiro speaks of an almost unbearable regret and remorse for his actions.  This is not because he fears death, but because of the devastating impact his crimes have had on his family and the family of Bridget.  Ramiro deserves to be punished, but he does not deserve to die.  He is a good person who committed a terrible crime.  Killing him will not rectify the tragedy of Bridget’s death.  It will not keep the public safe.  It does nothing to kill Ramiro in Bridget Townsend’s name. 

But it will break my heart.  My son doesn’t know his friend Ramiro is in prison and he certainly doesn’t know that he is scheduled to die in less than a month.  Someday, when he is old enough to understand, I will have to explain to my child why the State of Texas killed his friend—a friend who sends him gifts of artwork and poetry and words of kindness and love.

Pope Francis has declared this year a Jubilee of Mercy and has asked for a moratorium on executions worldwide.  I optimistically hope, and humbly beg, that you might take the time to reflect on the fact that Ramiro’s death would only augment an already existing tragedy with no discernible good.  There is no benefit to snuffing the life out of somebody who now shines light into the world.

Respectfully submitted,

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Bri-anne Swan
Toronto, Canada
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