Sunday, 25 March 2007
Why are there so many on death row? Of the 38 states with death penalties, Florida is the only one that doesn't require juries to reach a unanimous decision on at least a portion of the death-sentence recommendation. The federal government also requires it.
"If I were pro-death penalty in Florida, the best way to have more executions is to have fewer people sentenced to death," Michael Radelet, a University of Colorado professor and a leading expert on Florida's death penalty, told the Times.
The Florida Supreme Court, in an October 2005 decision, suggested that the Florida Legislature make the death penalty a unanimous jury verdict. A bill filed in the 2006 session to do that didn't get very far. For a politician to suggest such a thing may bring accusations of being soft on crime.
That could be countered with a conservative response: It is fiscally prudent to sentence fewer people to death. Keeping an inmate for life in prison, even for as long as 40 years, costs but a fraction of the millions of dollars the state spends on legal appeals leading up to an execution.