Speed Kills

Although Florida makes more death row mistakes than any other state, Governor Rick Scott is signing more death warrants and he's considering a bill that would shorten appeals (Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

Florida Governor Rick Scott (Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

Is Governor Rick Scott of Florida trying to speed up his state’s death penalty? He’s signing more death warrants (three executions are currently scheduled over the next month), and he’s considering a bill passed by the legislature that would shorten appeals.

He of course can, and should, veto this bill – known euphemistically as the “Timely Justice Act” – and we should all urge him to do so.

Florida has the nation’s most error-prone death penalty, having seen more death row inmates exonerated (24) than any other state. And it’s possible that a 25th is on the way. With 75 executions since its death penalty was reinstated, Florida has set free one person from death row for every three that have been executed.

The national rate, still appallingly high, is about one for ten. Which, not coincidentally, is the name of an important film project whose organizers have been crisscrossing the country interviewing death row exonerees.

Their most recent interview was with Florida exoneree Juan Melendez, who spent nearly 18 years on the Sunshine State’s death row. In the petition linked to above Juan writes that:


Documenting the Execution of Troy Davis

More than 700 protesters gathered at the Georgia Capitol on the night of Troy Davis's  execution. (Photo by Scott Langley)

More than 700 protesters gathered at the Georgia Capitol on the night of Troy Davis’s execution. (Photo by Scott Langley)

One For Ten (“a series of films about innocence and death row”) has a beautiful piece today on photographer Scott Langley and his wrenching experience documenting the execution of Troy Davis. Scott is also Amnesty International’s New York State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator, and has photographed the US death penalty abolition movement for many years.

In September 2008, as Scott arrived to document Troy’s second of what would be four execution dates, the prison guard checking him in told him: “I just hope the truth comes out.”


Empowering Death Row Exonerees To Tell Their Stories

Ray Krone was wrongly convicted and sentenced to die because of an expert witness on bite mark evidence. Despite the fact that Ray had an alibi, and that the other evidence at the crime scene did not point to him, the jury was swayed by this so-called expert.

What the jury did not know, however, was that the prosecution paid this expert around $50,000, ten times the total amount Ray had to defend himself. He spent 10 years in prison before his conviction was finally overturned.