As Mark Elliott, director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, points out, “That’s one exoneration for every three executions.”
That should give every Floridian pause.
Frank Lee Smith died of cancer on Death Row after 14 years in prison. Sadly, after his death, DNA testing proved he was innocent and also identified the real killer. What kind of justice did Mr. Smith get?
In a most perverse admission, flagged by Khalek, Republican Senator Rob Bradley said “this is not about guilt or innocence, it’s about timely justice.” So long as proceedings through the Kangaroo court are swift, Bradley seems to admit, the lives of inmates are expendable.
Chris Hedges calls it “cynically named”:
William Van Poyck … is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. June 12 at Florida State Prison. He is a writer who has spent years exposing the cruelty of our system of mass incarceration. On June 12, if Gov. Rick Scott has his way, Van Poyck will write no more. And that is exactly how our political class of murderers wants it.
The New York Times calls it “grotesquely named”:
As the American Bar Association explained in a scathing 2006 report on the state’s death penalty system, Florida is one of the few states that allows a jury to recommend a sentence of death based on a majority vote rather than a unanimous one. Defendants charged with capital crimes often have woefully unqualified counsel, and are much more likely to be convicted and sentenced to death if the victim is white — a sign of racial disparity that is clearly unconstitutional. The flaws in Florida’s system, which soaks up huge amounts of resources, cannot be fixed. It is long past time to abolish capital punishment.
An MSN headline appropriately summarizes, “Florida’s death row Timely Justice Act is cool, unless you’re innocent“—which Juan Melendez can understand since he spent 18 years on death row before being exonerated in 2002:
The “Timely Justice Act” would speed up a system we know has already sent innocent men, like myself, to death row. Some of these prisoners may be men like me, who have exhausted their legal appeals, yet keep trying to find a way to prove their innocence.
In multiple cases of current death row prisoners, we don’t know exactly what the legal claims are. Some of the men on Florida’s death row ran out of legal options simply because their attorneys missed filing deadlines.
In those instances, no court had the opportunity to evaluate the claims and determine whether they have merit. How can we possibly justify speeding up the execution of prisoners in those cases?
According to logic of the “Timely Justice Act,” any prisoner who has exhausted his appeals and been through a clemency process has had every opportunity and is ready for an execution date, regardless of the specific questions and issues that surround his case.
I am living proof that each case is unique and that the system must allow ample time for the truth to emerge.
Given Florida’s troubling track record on wrongful convictions, this legislation ensures the unthinkable — the execution of an innocent person.
There needs to be more outrage about this.