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Death Warrant Signed, Commission Killed

July 1st, 2011 by Anna Laura Rehwinkel

The death penalty is dead in Illinois beginning today, but in Florida it’s still very much alive. Governor Rick Scott signed his first death warrant. Now a man accused of killing a Coral Gables police officer more than 30 years ago is set to die. As Whitney Ray tells us, Manuel Valle will be the first Florida prisoner killed with a new controversial drug, many say gave a Georgia man a painful death last week.

Convicted Georgia killer Roy Blankenship may have been awake for the first three minutes of his execution. Experts say the anesthetic meant to render him unconscious before the final drug was administered may not have worked.

Now Florida is set to use the same anesthetic on Manuel Valle. Valle was convicted of killing a police officer 33 years ago. Governor Rick Scott signed his death warrant Thursday night.

We tried to ask Governor Rick Scott if he had any concerns about the new drugs, but Scott avoided our cameras breaking a long standing agreement with the Capital Press Corp to stop at the airport and answer questions anytime he was flying out of town.

We also wanted to ask the governor why he thought it was time to end the Florida Commission on Capital Cases. The commission provided oversight of the death penalty.

“Its role was to review the administration of death penalty cases, post conviction to receive public comment,” said Mark Schlakman.

Schlakman is the director of the Center for Advancement of Human Rights. He says the whole system is flawed and is calling on the governor to order a review.

“A comprehensive incredible look, a balanced look at the administration of Florida’s death penalty process to see what works, to see what doesn’t,” said Schlakman.

In 2006, the American Bar Association, issued a report claiming death row inmates in Florida weren’t given adequate legal representation among other issues. Human rights advocates say with no more oversight those problems will only get worse. The last execution to be carried out in Florida happened more than a year ago on February 16th, 2010.

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