Thursday, September 21, 2006
From PalmBeachPost.com: The American Bar Association recently released a review of Florida's death penalty today, highlighting serious problems with the fairness and accuracy of execution in the Sunshine State.
In the 454-page report, a team of influential Florida lawyers — both supporters and opponents — recommended a panoply of changes and urged further study of racial disparity, finding the process is clearly not color-blind."It appears that those convicted of killing white victims are far more likely to receive a death sentence and be executed," according to the report.
The review also called for two independent commissions to investigate wrongful convictions and innocence claims.Florida leads the nation in Death Row exonerations, 22 of them since the penalty was reinstated in 1973. During the same time, Florida executed 60 Death Row inmates. "Over one exoneration for every three executions," according to the report
The ABA report, two years in the making, was highly critical of the cloaked process of clemency, a procedure under which convicts can ask for forgiveness or mercy from the governor and his Cabinet members. They have the power to commute death sentences to life in prison. In the Sunshine State, the governor can deny clemency at any time, for any reason, without any hearing. Clemency has not been granted to an inmate sentenced to death in 23 years. Yet, its full and proper use is essential to guaranteeing fairness in the death penalty, according to ABA findings.