Tampa vigil and protest during Florida's execution of Manuel Valle

09/29/11 Jean Henry Telcy
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Manuel Valle was executed at Florida State Prison by injection of a controversial cocktail of lethal chemicals. He convicted for the murder of Police Officer Louis Pena during a traffic stop in 1978. Mark Elliot is executive director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Elliot’s biggest issues with the death penalty, however, are the possibility of error and the criteria for its use. It only takes a majority vote by a jury to assign the death sentence to a case, unlike the unanimous vote needed for a guilty verdict. As for the chance of wrongful conviction, Elliot thinks last week’s execution of Troy Davis serves as the ultimate example.

Members of the American Civil Liberties Union, The FADP, and concerned Tampa residents huddled inside of the church explaining why they were each against the death penalty. Joanie Thomas, a volunteer with FADP, read aloud an open letter written by Davis shortly before his execution last Wednesday.

The group gathers outside of the church shortly after the scheduled time of execution. They take turns ringing a bell, each with their own message about another execution. Although there were only about eight in attendance, the emotion was palpable.

With 400 people at the beginning of 2011, Florida has the second largest death row in the country.

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