SHAME: Florida’s Lawmakers Risk Speeding Up Wrongful Executions, Not Justice

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  • Count on Florida to concoct laws that have nothing to do with justice, but much to do with political expediency.

    It’s been that way for a while.

    In 2010, under the pretense of preventing voter fraud, the GOP-led Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott limited early voting hours and imposed other inconveniences that led to block-long lines at the polls in 2012, and made Florida the laughingstock of the nation as it was in 2000.

    But now it seems that while many of those same lawmakers didn’t mind people waiting too long to vote, some can’t stand the thought of death row inmates waiting too long to die.

    No matter that, especially in Florida, some of those inmates may be innocent.

    But that apparently doesn’t matter to those who overwhelmingly passed the Timely Justice Act bill – which is now awaiting Scott’s signature. Under the bill, inmates who believe they have been wrongly condemned would get roughly eight months to prove their innocence. After that, Scott would be required to sign a death warrant within 30 days.

    After that, they’d get the needle in 180 days.

    First of all, it’s laughable and disturbing that Florida, which with 24 exonerations has the most of any state, would be trying to speed up executions. If anything, it should be trying to slow them down – so as not to have the blood of another Frank Lee Smith on their hands.

    Smith spent 14 years on death row before being exonerated of raping and murdering an 8-year-old girl in 1985. His conviction came largely because of eyewitness testimony, which is known to be unreliable. The legal advice Smith received to plead insanity didn’t help; the jury convicted him and sentenced him to death in 1986.

    His death warrant was signed in 1989, but after receiving a stay after one eyewitness changed her testimony years later, Smith’s attorneys began requesting DNA testing in 1998.

    But cancer claimed Smith before justice came. He died in prison in January 2000 – eleven months before DNA tests not only cleared him of the crime, but also identified the true perpetrator.

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    3 thoughts on “SHAME: Florida’s Lawmakers Risk Speeding Up Wrongful Executions, Not Justice

    1. I don’t believe in the death penalty because there is too big a possibility of peace at the moment of death. I think a person commits a particularly heinous crime should be lock away and made to feel as if they wish they were dead for the rest of their natural lives. As for DNA testing as proof of guilt or innocence, why not do it routinely as a matter of course instead of waiting for the 11th hour? Why do people always have to go the long around? And as for a the potentially innocent receiving the death penalty, what about the killers who are caught in the act? If you abolish the death penalty then you agree to pay for the killer’s upkeep until he dies. Not fair if you ask me.

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