Florida to Act on Orders of Execution More Quickly

Sometimes when legislators are facing dramatic budget cuts, they make smart choices that ultimately benefit their constituents while saving money at the same time. Unfortunately, at other times legislators either use the excuse of budget cuts to pass controversial and harmful legislative agendas or simply look in the wrong places for the answers.

Florida is facing a budget crisis. But rather than continuing to explore reducing the state’s prison population and fostering alternatives to imprisonment for low-level offenders in order to save money, state legislators have decided that executing death row inmates faster and without adequate appeals will be a fine solution to finding some much-needed room in the budget. Even though individuals convicted of serious felony offenses who are facing death by the hand of the state are perhaps most in need of an adequate appeals process.

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For the purposes of this particular blog entry, it truly does not matter whether or not you support the death penalty. The pros and cons of the death penalty are not the points of the bill recently passed by the Florida legislature. Rather, this bill insists that by eliminating “frivolous” appeals by death row inmates and executing them more quickly will save tax payer dollars. Chancing the execution of potentially innocent inmates by eliminating certain appellate options is simply not worth the cost of the money saved.

The “Timely Justice Act” may have very well been passed with good intentions. Saving tax payers money is a worthy goal. However, there are many, many ways that Florida legislators can breathe justice and greater access to due process into the state’s criminal justice system while saving money. Promoting alternatives to expensive imprisonment for low-level offenders is just one example of how to do just that. However, executing death row inmates faster by limiting their access to important appellate processes does not accomplish the goal of reducing the budget in a just and balanced way.

Source: Mother Jones, “Florida Passes Law To Speed Up Executions,” Stephanie Mencimer, Apr. 30, 2013