Death Penalty Bill Speeds To Scott

April 30, 2013

State lawmakers Monday gave final approval to a proposal aimed at reducing delays in carrying out the death penalty, with supporters saying they want justice for victims’ families — but critics warning about executing innocent people.

Sen. Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who sponsored the measure, said some inmates have been on Death Row for more than 30 years.

“That isn’t justice,” Negron said. “That’s a mockery of the court system.”

But other lawmakers pointed to scientific advances, such as DNA evidence, that have helped clear some inmates who have been imprisoned for long periods.

“I just think this swiftness does not necessarily equate to fairness,” said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa.

Senators voted 28-10 on Monday to approve the bill (HB 7083), which passed the House last week. It now goes to Gov. Rick Scott.

The bill focuses, at least in part, on ending delays in what is known as the “post-conviction” legal process, which starts after the Florida Supreme Court upholds death sentences in initial appeals. The post-conviction process can involve appeals about issues such as whether defendants have received ineffective legal representation.

Among other things, the bill seeks to ensure that attorneys have “actual” conflicts of interest before being replaced in death-penalty cases. Replacing attorneys can cause delays.

Also, the bill would take steps to prevent attorneys from representing Death Row inmates if the attorneys have had problems in earlier capital cases. The bill would bar lawyers from working on death-penalty cases for five years if courts have found that they provided deficient representation twice.

As of early March, Florida had 404 inmates on Death Row, with 155 in custody for more than 20 years, according to a House staff analysis. Ten had been on Death Row for more than 35 years.

This month, Florida executed Larry Eugene Mann, who was convicted in 1981 in the abduction and murder of a 10-year girl in Pinellas County.

Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said the bill would not prevent inmates from pursuing legitimate claims of innocence. But he echoed Negron’s argument that some people sitting on Death Row for decades makes a “mockery” of the justice system.

“This bill is about closure for victims’ families,” said Bradley, a former prosecutor.

But a group called Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty said in a news release Monday that 24 wrongfully convicted Death Row prisoners have been exonerated since Florida resumed executions in the 1970s.

“Legislation that speeds executions by limiting appeals will almost certainly lead to the execution of innocent men and women,” said Mark Elliott, the group’s director.

By The News Service of Florida


7 Responses to “Death Penalty Bill Speeds To Scott”

  1. David Huie Green on May 1st, 2013 2:17 pm

    One person always decides.
    Any one person on the jury can decide the prosecution hasn’t proved guilt. That’s all it takes.

    In fact, even after each last juror has decided guilt and the jury decides the crime was bad enough to recommend the death penalty, the judge alone decides whether or not to impose that sentence. After that it’s more of a consensus thing other than the fact each president has the power to over rule everybody and release the convicted killer. (So ultimately in this case, President Obama decided the man who killed the little girl some 32 years ago deserved to die. So did every other president back through President Reagan, since each refused to pardon or commute his sentence.)

    The new technology you hope will prove the accused did not kill the forgotten victims is instead removing doubt.

    David for more perfect justice

  2. fred on April 30th, 2013 11:39 am


    Pro life is for “innocent lives” Not murderers.
    Way above your pay grade.

  3. Bob Hudsun on April 30th, 2013 9:53 am

    Great about time, and baby killing liberals have no right to complain, THEY (the guilty) have been judged and sentenced , innocent babies have done nothing wrong, Yet liberals see no problem killing the innocent. Makes me sick

  4. dgh on April 30th, 2013 9:53 am

    I think we should consider one aspect of Italy’s courts (and only this one) and that is have an independent group of detectives/attorneys review each murder conviction about a year later to make sure that there are no questions, or rush to put someone in prison.

    The death penalty issue is one I do struggle with; is it good for general society, in a moral aspect, to push a death penalty so vigorously. Do we harm our own morality? Then on the other hand, someone who has to be removed from general society for the rest of their lives is it more humane to just put them to sleep instead of leaving them locked up? So it is the revenge factor that troubles me.

  5. Mike J. on April 30th, 2013 9:45 am

    @huh? Simple. The difference between being pro-life against abortion and being for the death penalty is this: unborn babies are INNOCENT of any wrongdoing. Convicted murderers are GUILTY of the worst crime possible. The policital Left wants to protect the Guilty and punish the Innocent.

    @Bill, if all twelve jurors would be required for death penalty conviction, then it would never happen (which is what some people want) because weeding through the jury pool would take weeks and it would be difficult to find 12 jurors that the prosecution and defense like who are not against the death penalty.

    Mainly I am for the death penalty because I want the guilty to be punished, the criminals to fear the swift process of the death penalty (they don’t fear it today), and because I don’t want us to have to pay our taxes for housing, food, security, medical for these lowest-of-the-low criminals in prison for 20 plus years.

    So if your “alternative” is to keep them locked up and fed for 20 plus years, then YOU pay for it! Take private donations to keep them alive. I’m sure the victim’s families will not be donating, yet under today’s system they are required to pay through their required taxes for keeping alive the person who murdered their loved ones. Think about that.

  6. huh on April 30th, 2013 3:06 am

    The problem is technology changes and many people are often freed due to new evidence or updated DNA evidence. So rushing to have someone put to death isn’t very “pro life” I thought Republicans were pro life? Shouldn’t that include all life?

  7. Bill Gamblin on April 30th, 2013 1:11 am

    I understand the need to speed up executions, but I feel if you want to do away with innocent people from being put to death then change how they are sentenced. It should take all jurors to find you guilty and then all of them agree in the sentencing phase to stick the needle in your arm. There should no longer be these 7-5 verdicts to sentence someone to death in Florida. By allowing a vote like this in sentencing, one person ultimately decides who lives or who dies.