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Yesterday, I was part of a bipartisan group of state representatives who met with Melissa Lucio on death row. You can read more about her tragic case here.
It was my first visit to the row, and it was eye-opening. For most of us, capital punishment is an abstract idea; we sanitize what we’re doing and dehumanize the people we’re doing it to. That’s not something you can do sitting face-to-face with a human being knowing that our state is scheduled to kill her very soon.
It was almost surreal: Only three weeks ago, I was watching Melissa on television and being moved by her story. In person, Melissa was just as sympathetic, but what struck me about her was the sense of calm and peace she maintains despite her looming execution. It reminded me of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane contemplating what awaited him on the cross. Melissa has wrestled with her own mortality in a way few of us will ever have to.
We talked, we prayed, we hugged, and Melissa told us something I’ve heard many times from people involved in the justice system: that our intervention was the first time in her life that someone believed in her and stood up for her. She also talked about what she fears now—not her own death, but the lives her children will lead without her.
Yet Melissa is a woman of great faith, and she still believes her salvation will come. We have just three weeks for the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott to grant clemency or a reprieve, or for Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz to withdraw Melissa’s execution date. I urge these officials to do the right thing, and hope you'll join me in sending that message.

I personally believe Melissa is innocent, but I also think no reasonable person could argue that her trial gives them confidence in her guilt. We have to do better. As Easter Sunday approaches, I pray that Melissa is granted the grace and mercy she deserves, and I won’t stop fighting for that.