Two former death row inmates, Seth Penalver and Herman Lindsey, are protesting the progress of the “Timely Justice Act,” a bill that, if passed, would limit the appeals course for those convicted of capital crimes and expedite the process of state executions in Florida.
Based on the terms of the act, a death warrant would be signed within 30 days of a State Supreme Court review of the capital conviction, and thereafter the state would be required to execute the defendant within 180 days.
The exonerees are concern this action would cost lives, condemning innocent people to death as wrongful convictions do happen. Shortening the appellate process would have ended Penavler’s life, as his criminal sentence was absolved in 2012 after 18 years in prison for a triple murder from 1994 he did not commit. In Penavler’s case, evidence had been allegedly omitted by prosecutors, uncovered later by a private investigator.
Lindsey was sent to Florida’s death row in 2006 for the robbery and murder of a Ft. Lauderdale pawnshop owner back in 1994. His guilty verdict and death row sentence was vacated only after it was deemed the state had failed to properly process the evidence in the case.
Since 1973, 24 men on Florida’s death row have been cleared of their so-called crimes.
The two men held a press conference on Wednesday, asking Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott to veto the death penalty bill recently passed by the state legislature.
Lindsey argued the point that several attorneys handling death row cases are underpaid and don’t have the resources to conduct extensive investigations for new evidence.
Currently Florida has about 405 prisoners on death row. If the bill is signed into law, 13 people, who have exhausted their post-conviction appeals and gone through the clemency process, could be executed within the year.
Supporters for capital punishment and the bill feel inmates languish far too long on death row, as some post-conviction appeals can take decades, costing time and money, and making a mockery of the justice system. In Florida, it takes an average of 13 years for an inmate to transition from sentencing to execution. Some have sat for more than 30 years, leaving the victims’ families no choice but to wait for justice and closure.
Do you support capital punishment? Do you think the process from sentencing to execution should be shortened?
[Image via Shutterstock]