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

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Florida might even be headed for a 25th exoneration. According to The New York Times, Clemente Javier Aguirre-Jarguin, who has been on death row since 2006 for murdering two women, has presented DNA evidence that shows the blood at the crime scene wasn’t his, but possibly that of one of the victims’ daughters.

Unfortunately, it seems that in Florida a sense of shame, as well as compassion and common sense, is lacking among the people who run the state. And those qualities seem to be especially lacking when they’re dealing with people who they believe are powerless and voiceless.

That’s what they did in 2010, when instead of trying to thwart the state’s real problems, such as poverty and unemployment, Tea Party lawmakers spent most of the session trying to thwart black, Latino and any group likely to vote for President Obama. They learned nothing from the presidential election debacle of 2000, when the recount and scenes of people counting “hanging chads,” made Florida a running joke on late night television. Ultimately, the embarrassment and outcry forced Scott to reverse most of the voting laws he signed.

But this Timely Justice Act is nothing to joke about.

People who are robbed of the chance to vote because of cumbersome laws may get the chance to vote again. An innocent person who is put to death or who dies in prison after spending most of his life there for a crime he didn’t commit, however, doesn’t get a do-over.

And considering how often Florida gets convictions wrong, it ought to do what Illinois did. In 2011, it abolished the death penalty after 13 inmates had been exonerated based on DNA evidence.

But that would be too much like the right thing to do. It didn’t want black, Latino and poor people to be able to vote quickly, but it sure wants to kill death row inmates quickly.

Apparently, they want them dead before they can get a chance to prove their innocence – and in doing so, prove the justice system’s incompetence.

And lawmakers’ insensitivity.

Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her @tonyaajw. Or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonyaajweathersbee.

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