The Florida legislature has passed a package of criminal justice reforms that include provisions to speed up the execution of those on death row. Gov. Rick Scott is almost certain to sign the bill. And one Republican callously declared that it’s “not about guilt or innocence.”
The Florida Senate sent Governor Rick Scott a package of capital-punishment reforms on Monday designed to prevent condemned killers from spending decades on Death Row, despite warnings that speeding up the legal appeals process could lead to innocent prisoners being executed…
“Is swift justice fair justice?” asked Democratic party Senator Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa attorney who voted against the bill. “We have seen cases where, years later, convicted people were exonerated,” she said.
“I don’t see the reason for the swiftness, especially with DNA evidence that can exonerate,” said Senator Maria Sachs, who is also an attorney and a Democrat.
But Republican Senator Rob Bradley said, “this is not about guilt or innocence, it’s about timely justice.” Frivolous appeals designed only for delay are not fair to victims and their families, he said.
It’s not about guilt or innocence? Since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in the early 70s, Florida has executed 74 people; they’ve also seen 24 people on death row exonerated, proven to be not guilty. That’s a 25% failure rate, for crying out loud. As Mark Elliott, director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (FADP), said late last year, “It is both tragic and ironic that the state that has sent the highest number of wrongfully convicted people to Death Row is now condemning the most people to death.” And now trying to do it even faster. Appalling.