Death Penalty Unfair by Mitch E. Perry

09/18/06

A new study says that Florida’s death penalty has problems with fairness and accuracy. It also says there are disparities racially and geographically in how it is administered.

An 8 member teach assembled by the American Bar Association has just spent the last year and a half studying the state’s capital punishment system. (roll tape#1 o.q.�the death penalty�)

Mark Schlakman is the director of the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University, and was a member of the group, and has made 11 specific and unanimous recommendations. (roll tape#2 o..q� are tangible�)

Currently there are 377 inmates on death row in Florida. The state leads the country in the number of innocent inmates that were sent to be executed but were subsequently exonerated, with 23.

Mark Schlakman says that can be looked at in both a positive and negative way (roll tape#3 o.q.�these issues and problems�)

The report also says what the Florida Supreme Court said 15 years ago ; that there are severe racial disparities in how and when somebody is scheduled for execution in the state. Since 1979, when Florida re-instated capital punishment, none of the 60 executed have been white defendants who killed Black victims.

Interestingly, the report says there are geographic disparities as well. There are 20 judicial circuits in the state of Florida, with 20 different state attorneys in charge.

Team member Mark Schlakman explains why that’s significant (roll tape#3 o.q.�in the least troubling �)

Florida is currently the only state in the country that allows a jury to impose the death penalty with just a simple majority, versus a unanimous jury decision. Last year, State Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero urged the legislature to change that law, suggesting that it could be open to attack. But the Legislature refused to deal with the issue.

Christopher Slobogin is law professor at the University of Florida, and also a member of group that produced the new report. (roll tape#4 o.q.�the legislature has not acted�)

The report also says that there is ‘signficant capital juror confusion’. The report says that death sentences from juror confusion or mistakes are not tolerable, but research establishes that many Florida capitol jurors do NOT understand their role and responsibility when deciding whether to impose a death sentence. University of Florida law professor Chris Slobogin, teaching this year at Stanford, says that conclusion was drawn from research literature involved with people who served on capital juries (roll tape#5 o.q.�the death penalty�) The report can be found on the internet at abanet.org

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