On Friday late afternoon, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the “Timely Justice Act,” a bill designed to speed up executions in a state that is responsible for more known wrongful convictions in death penalty cases than any other. As a result, there are “at least 13 inmates immediately eligible for death warrants.”
Governor Scott signed the bill after requesting to hear from the public, who responded by overwhelmingly urging him to veto it. As the News Service of Florida reported:
“As of Thursday, his office had received 447 phone calls, with 438 opposed to the bill; 14 letters, with 13 opposed; and 14,571 emails, with 14,565 opposed.”
Although Governor Scott, in signing the bill into law, ignored this public response, he does seem to have been impacted by it. He is now claiming that the “Timely Justice Act” is not meant to “fast track” executions, a claim seemingly disputed by the bill’s key sponsor, who said on Twitter that “Several on death row need to start picking out their last meals.”
As Governor Scott at least seems to recognize, an excessive enthusiasm for executions is not playing very well with the Florida public. That is an encouraging sign and reflects the general public disenchantment with capital punishment that has been evident for many years now.
Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina, who has a bill to restart executions in his state on his desk, ought to take note and reconsider resuming executions in a state that has done fine without them for almost 7 years.