On Wednesday, Florida’s
released an editorial criticizing the state’s ongoing use of the death penalty. Considering that “Florida leads the nation with two dozen death-row exonerations since 1979,” states the editorial, it’s imperative that the state reexamine whether its use of capital punishment and the passage of the Timely Justice Act, a law sponsored by the state’s governor that will speed up executions, are just and prudent. Florida has executed six people since January and has another execution scheduled for next week.
According to the editorial, last year the Board of Governors of the Florida Bar Association called for a comprehensive review of Florida’s death penalty process based on a 2006 report released by the American Bar Association which found problems with the fairness, impartiality and accuracy of the state’s process. The
The biggest problem is the possibility of wrongfully executing someone who is innocent. . . .
Just last week, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the death sentence and conviction of Paul Hildwin. He has spent the last 28 years in prison for allegedly strangling a woman to death in Hernando County.
DNA evidence found at the murder scene was in recent years discovered to match a former boyfriend of the victim rather than Hildwin.
One way to lessen the chances of wrongful convictions is changing the state’s sentencing system. Florida is one of two states where just a majority jury vote can recommend death.
. . .
Rather than racing toward the national lead for executions, the state should work toward no longer having the disgraceful distinction of leading the nation in wrongful death sentences.