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The death of the death penalty almost everywhere — but not in Florida!



Saw this the other day from the Economist. If you'll recall, what do Florida, North Korea and Iran have in common? Here's something to read from the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida:

... we should all insist that the possibility of horrible and irreversible error in Florida’s implementation of the death penalty is minimized.

That is the point of legislation pending in both Florida’s House and Senate — SB 334 by Sen. Thad Altman R-Melbourne, and HB 467 Rep. Jose Javier Rodriquez, D-Miami, both entitled “Sentencing in Capital Felonies.” Sadly, it does not appear that either chamber is willing to take up this issue.

The proposed legislation, which is also supported by the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops and the American Civil Liberties Union, would require that death sentences be recommended by a unanimous jury — just as a unanimous jury is required for a guilty verdict.

Of those states that use the death penalty, Florida and Delaware are the only states in which a simple majority (for example, a 7-5 vote) can recommend death.

All other death penalty states — except Alabama, which requires a vote of 10 of 12 jurors — require a unanimous jury recommendation for death.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center's 2013 year-end report, Florida was No. 2 in both death sentences (15) and executions (7). California led the country in new death sentences with 24, though it is important to note that California has a moratorium on executions and has executed no one since 2006.

Critically, while No. 2 in death sentences, Florida is No. 1 in the nation for the number of inmates released from Death Row due to exonerations, mistakes, and prosecutorial error — and misconduct (24 since 1979), an error rate that should be unacceptable to all Floridians

There is a relationship between the number of mistakes and the fact that a simple majority of a jury can vote to recommend death.

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 9:46am]


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