Target: Mr. Rick Scott, Governor of Florida
Goal: Stop retaliation against state attorney who announced she would not seek death penalty sentences during her term.
A Florida prosecutor has been retaliated against after announcing her office would not seek the death penalty for anyone – including cases that fueled public outrage. State Attorney Aramis D. Ayala was replaced in some capital cases and will have her budget cut by more than $1 million. Some lawmakers are even calling for her entire suspension. Ms. Ayala is the first black prosecutor elected in the state, and her recent statement against the “eye for an eye” approach is grounded in evidence that capital punishment does nothing to improve safety in communities. Her stand against the death penalty is indeed one expression of a vanguard of top prosecutors around the country who are rethinking harsh punishment and questioning its effectiveness.
Ms. Ayala argues that she is aware of the gravity of the capital cases she was assigned to and is sympathetic to the victims. However, in-depth research in the state’s records revealed that the death penalty has failed a deterrent. The risk of capital punishment has not prevented delinquents from committing heinous crimes and has done nothing to protect law enforcement officers. Furthermore, there is an enormous gap between sentencing and executing, which often exceeds a decade, and usually includes a lengthy appeal process by the inmate. The gap between the sentence, the execution, and the appeal process means a drain on resources from the state and emotional distress to the families of the victims. Seeking life sentences is a more efficient way to address the flaws in the capital punishment system.
Florida has 381 prisoners in death row, and Ms. Ayala’s bold stand against the death penalty is a push to cultural change in the state. It is worrisome that Governor Rick Scott decided to intervene in Ms. Ayala’s office because of a disagreement over her judgment and her use of discretion. Ms. Ayala, who is a Democrat, did a successful campaign to be the first black woman occupying the post of state attorney and the Republican governor’s order to remove her from cases and cut her office budget is an abuse of authority. Ms. Ayala must have the chance to defend and eventually prove that states with capital punishment are not safer than states that do not push death sentences. Sign the petition below to have Ms. Ayala back to her originally assigned cases and her budget restored, with no further retaliation to her office.
Dear Mr. Scott,
State Attorney Aramis D. Ayala was replaced in some capital cases and will have her budget cut by more than $1 million after a bold stand against the death penalty. Your decision to intervene in her office is an abuse of authority since it is based simply on your disagreement with her positions.
Ms. Ayala has fact-based evidence that the death penalty is not an effective alternative to prevent heinous crimes and protect law enforcement officers. She has also gathered evidence showing that capital punishment also contributes to the emotional distress of the victims’ families, and it is expensive to the state, draining its resources for decades. Ms. Ayala must have the chance to present her approach and perform her job. I urge you to reassign Ms. Ayala to her cases and restore her budget, with no further retaliation to her office because of her views.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: World Coalition Against the Death Penalty