Best known for sandy beaches, palmettos and warm weather, Florida has a darker side not familiar to those paying homage to Mickey Mouse and the Magic Kingdom. Florida leads the nation in the number of exonerations of death row prisoners due to evidence of wrongful conviction. Since 1976, Florida has executed 82 prisoners and exonerated 24 death row inmates, more than one exoneration for every four executions. That is a dismal track record and raises serious concerns about the likelihood of executing an innocent person.
Unfortunately, Florida’s response to this problem recently was to enact legislation with the intent of speeding up executions. Despite an outcry of opposition from Florida residents that included over 15,000 calls, emails and letters, in June 2013 Governor Rick Scott signed the Timely Justice Act. According to Mark Elliott, Executive Director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, “it will certainly raise the risk of executing an innocent person, if not make it a certainty.”
Indeed, the Associated Press reported in early January that Governor Scott began his work in 2014 by signing a new death warrant. And, on January 7th the first scheduled execution of 2014, that of Askari Muhammad, took place in Florida.
This is an ominous start for 2014. Nationwide, 11 executions in seven states have been scheduled for January alone. For all of 2013, 39 people were executed by 9 states. There were seven Florida executions in 2013, the most in almost 30 years. Together with Texas, Florida accounted for almost 60% of the nation’s executions. California and Florida accounted for half of all new death sentences. And, California, Florida, and Texas hold half of all Death Row inmates in the nation.
Please TAKE ACTION!!! Contact Governor Rick Scott to ask him to STOP SIGNING DEATH WARRANTS and to order a thorough, balanced and public review of Florida’s death penalty system. Your calls and emails are counted. Gov. Rick Scott – Phone: 850-488-7146