Tell Florida Not to Shorten Death Row Wait Time

prisonalley

Target: Don Gaetz, Florida Senator

Goal: Condemn law that will force executions of prisoners after a short time on death row

Florida has just taken an illogical step towards an extreme death penalty process. A bill that Republican Senator Rob Bradley claims is not about guilt or innocence, but “timely justice” has just been passed. This bill greatly shortens an inmate’s waiting time before executions, making it very difficult for the innocent to be exonerated. This does not make any sense, especially given that Florida has the highest number of exonerated persons in the nation. Condemn the lawmakers that have passed this senseless law.

The new bill states that cases involving capital punishment should be dealt with “as soon as possible” rather than in just and well-thought out manner. The disturbing content of the bill reveals lawmakers’ mindset: “It is the intent of the Legislature to reduce delays in capital cases and to ensure that all appeals and postconviction actions in capital cases are resolved as soon as possible within 5 years after the date a sentence of death is imposed in the circuit court.” The timing of 5 years is crossed off as lawmakers who approved of the bill are not patient enough to wait this amount of time. Evidence shows that many inmates have been proven innocent more than 10 years after a conviction.

Those who voted in support of the bill were warned that passing it could lead to the execution of innocent individuals. Cases like this can be devastating, as exemplified by the case of David Wayne Spence. Spence was convicted of murdering three Texas teens and executed by lethal injection even though the myriad of physical evidence at the scene was a 0% match for Spence’s DNA. In relation to the case, The New York Times reported, “Any intelligent person who takes a close and honest look at the David Wayne Spence case will see that it was a travesty.”

Florida is known for its harsh death penalty laws. It is also the only state that allows juries to recommend death by a simple majority of 7 to 5, rather than requiring at least 10 to recommend death. Urge Florida to amend its awful track record on the death penalty by repealing this new law.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Don Gaetz,

The recent law passed regarding the length of time an inmate can wait for an execution is illogical. It seems as if the state has reduced this amount of time to “as soon as possible” in order to save money, not because there is a need for swift justice. Justice, in fact, is often not swift. Florida has the highest number of exonerated persons in the United States. In addition to this, inmates sentenced to death row before have been found not guilty ten years after a sentence.

Florida already has among some of the harshest death penalty laws in the nation. This aggressive measure does nothing more than solidify the state’s irrational stance on the matter. Please reconsider this preposterous bill.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: scottnj via Flickr

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