Florida Papers Begin Calling For Closer Look at State’s Death Penalty

When I started this blog back in September 2011, little was being said about Florida’s death row or the death penalty in general across the nation. But not long after, a series of events, including the execution of Troy Davis and Rick Perry’s presidential campaign, catapulted the death penalty debate back into the national spotlight.

The debate is far more pro than anti in Florida, where the most people were sentenced to death in 2012 , but a few voices, like Rep. Rehwinkel Vasilinda, have been questioning the system, and now a spate of editorials in Florida papers are calling for closer scrutiny of the state’s death penalty. From The Miami Herald to The Tampa Bay Times, suddenly papers are taking notice of the fact that the Sunshine State is the state with the most death row exonerations, the second-largest death row in the U.S. and the state that generated more than a fourth of new death sentences last year.

Here’s a roundup of the editorials, all of which came out within a little more than a week of each other:

Tallahassee Democrat editorial: Our Opinion: Death penalty
“One contributor to the high number of people on Death Row is Florida’s unusual requirement that a jury needs only a majority vote to recommend a death sentence. Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero has pushed for years for a change; the current policy not only increases the risk that the death penalty is applied improperly but also burdens the courts with appeals of those sentences….Nobody wants to see an innocent person executed. In the interest of justice, the Florida Bar and the Legislature should do all they can to ensure that the death penalty administered in our names is being handled in as fair a way as possible.”

Tampa Bay Times editorial: First, Review Flawed Death Row System 
“Only mischief will result from moving death penalty rule-making from the judicial branch….To zero in on the problems with Florida’s death penalty system, a comprehensive review by all three branches of government is needed, as the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors said in its resolution Friday. The state hasn’t undertaken an official review, besides a look into a botched execution under Bush, in over a decade. In 2006, a two-year study of Florida’s system by the American Bar Association pointed up issues that the state has yet to address. Without understanding what those problems are, there is no basis for a discussion on reform.”

Miami Herald editorial: Justice Denied
“Florida’s death penalty system is terribly flawed. Lawmakers have known that since at least 2006, when the American Bar Association released an exhaustive report calling the system “fraught with problems,” including racial disparities….ow, a glimmer of hope: Last week, the Florida Bar adopted a position supporting a comprehensive review of Florida’s entire death penalty process by all branches of government. That’s leadership in the right direction. Is anyone in Tallahassee listening?”

Palm Beach Post editorial: Limiting Death Row Appeals Would Mean Executing the Innocent
“Limiting appeals only will increase the flaws. In 2000, Mr. Bush and the Legislature wanted no more than 10 years to pass between conviction and execution. Under that rule, Florida would have executed seven innocent people. Just weeks before the Florida Supreme Court tossed that 2000 overreach, an Alachua County man was acquitted after being wrongfully convicted for murder….After the court ruling 13 years ago, John Thrasher — then House speaker and now a state senator — fumed, “How much longer can we continue to tip the scales of justice in favor of convicted murderers…?” In fact, fixing the system would tip the scale of justice in favor of justice.”

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2 thoughts on “Florida Papers Begin Calling For Closer Look at State’s Death Penalty

  1. Dudley Sharp says:

    What Florida has is the highest number of fraudulent claims regarding execoneration.

    In a message dated 2/7/2013 5:29:05 A.M. Central Standard Time, Sharpjfa@aol.com writes:
    To: The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

    From: Dudley Sharp

    The never ending problem: No fact checking.

    To paraphrase the Miami Herald article, below:

    The alarm bells have been clanging for at least ten years.
    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/05/3218885/justice-denied.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy

    The latest:

    Miami Herald Editorial Board

    “Yet Florida also leads the nation in the number of Death Row exonerations, with 24 since 1973, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.”

    Justice denied
    OUR OPINION: Review of Florida’s death penalty system sorely needed
    By The Miami Herald Editorial
    Posted on Tuesday, 02.05.13
    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/05/3218885/justice-denied.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy


    In a message dated 1/25/2013 9:04:52 A.M. Central Standard Time, Sharpjfa@aol.com writes:


    For some reason, few seems to fact check the 24 exonerated from death row in Florida, althought the state review, below, has been well known for over a decade.

    See my note to the Florida Center on Investigative Reporting, below.

    I hope you will correct your HP story:

    The State With The Most Death Row Exonerations Wants To Speed Up Executions
    By Radley Balko Posted: 01/24/2013 9:45 am EST | Updated: 01/24/2013 10:47 am EST

    Sincerely, Dudley Sharp

    In a message dated 1/16/2013 9:41:59 A.M. Central Standard Time, Sharpjfa@aol.com writes:

    Dear FCIR:

    I am not sure anyone in the media in Florida fact checks the ongoing error of stating that 22-24 innocents have been released from death row in Florida, during the modern era.

    To no avail, I have been active in correcting these easily confirmable errors for over a decade.

    Here are two state reviews from 2002 and 2011. It is as if they never existed, just as my efforts.

    Case Histories: A Review of 24 Individuals Released from Death Row (2002),
    FLORIDA COMMISSION ON CAPITAL CASES, Locke Burt, Chairman, June 20, 2002,
    Revised: September 10, 2002

    TRULY INNOCENT?: A Review of 23 Case Histories of Inmates Released from Florida‘s Death Row Since 1973, Commission on Capital Cases, The Florida Legislature, Roger R. Maas, Executive Director May 13, 2011

    This is a very common problem, as you can see, below.

    Sincerely, Dudley Sharp

    4) “The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents”

    5) The 130 (now 142) death row “innocents” scam

    6) “Troy Davis & The Innocent Frauds of the anti death penalty lobby”,

    7) “Cameron Todd Willingham: Another Media Meltdown”, A Collection of Articles

    8) “Carlos DeLuna: Another False Innocence Claim?”

    9) “(Carlos DeLuna) “At the Death House Door” Can Rev. Carroll Pickett be trusted?”

    10) “Exoneration Inflation: Justice Scalia’s Concurrence in Kansas v. March”, by Ward Campbell, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, California Department of Justice, p 49, The Journal of the Institute for the Advancement of Criminal Justice, Issue 2, Summer 2008

    11) “The innocence tactic: Unreliable studies and disinformation”, reports By United States Congress, Senate, 107th Congress, 2d Session, Calender no 731, Report 107-315. The Innocence Protection Act of 2002, (iv) The innocence tactic: Unreliable studies and disinformation, p 65-69

    12) “The Innocent and the Shammed”, Joshua Marquis, Published in New York Times, 1/26/2006

    13) “The Myth Of Innocence”­, Joshua Marquis, pu­blished in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminolog­y – 3/31/2005, Northweste­rn University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois

    14) Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review”

  2. Dudley Sharp says:

    I sent the above message to many Florida reporters, on the dates, as provided.

    As I have been sending confirmable information on the fraudlent numbers of exonerated to Florida reporters for about a decade, I have little doubt but that this fraud will not be corrected by anyone within the Florida media.

    Sad state of media affairs, which likely, will surprise no one.

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