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Death Penalty Recommendations Ignored

October 29th, 2009 by flanews

The Florida Supreme Court ordered a stay of execution for a man convicted of a triple murder.

The reason, Paul Johnson still has the right to appeal his sentencing. Governor Charlie Crist may have signed Johnsons death warrant prematurely, but as Whitney Ray tells us, political pressure to speed up Johnsons execution was mounting.

On January 9th, 1981, Paul Johnson, shot and killed a Polk County Deputy and two others. He was sentenced to death for the murders, but the Florida Supreme Court is ordering a stay of execution, saying Governor Charlie Crist may have jumped the gun in Johnsons case.

Crist signed Johnsons death warrant even though the convicted killer hadnt exhausted his appeals, but political pressure was mounting on the governor.

More than 2,200 people signed a petition asking Crist to sign the death certificate. ACLU Attorney Larry Spalding doesnt know why Crist was so eager but says politics should never taint such dire decisions.

You shouldnt react on emotional calls to do things. You react rationally and responsible and working within the system, said Spalding.

A system many say is broken. Florida is the only state with capital punishment that allows a jury hand down the death sentence without a unanimous vote. Three years ago The American Bar Association recommended changes to the system. Mark Schlakman was one of eight lawyers working on the report. The recommendations have been ignored.

It is apprehension by elected officials as the possibility of being branded as anything but tough on crime, but these issues dont go to whether one is tough on crime, they go to administration of justice, said Schlakman.

More than 20 death row inmates have been exonerated since executions resumed in 1979. Executions also come with a hefty price tag. On average two death row inmates are executed in Florida every year, at a cost of 51 million dollars to taxpayers. Life in prison for an inmate entering the system at 20 years old, costs an estimated 1.5 million tax dollars.

Posted in Charlie Crist, Criminal Justice, State News | 9 Comments »

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