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Death Row Deaths

November 18th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

Inmates on Florida’s Death Row have an equal chance of dying from old age as they do from lethal injection. Since 1993, 74 death row inmates have gone to their maker, but only half of them died from execution. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, even supporters believe the system is broken.

Florida has four death row inmates over age 70. William Cruse, who opened fire in a grocery store, is 82. 54 others sentenced to death have already turned 60.

Some have been on death row more than three decades. Larry Spalding used to run the agency credited with keeping many of them alive and he says those with a lengthy stay will likely never be executed.

“They really have all but gone insane,” Spalding said. “Those cases are being resolved the way that live without parole is being resolved, they will die in prison.

Since 1993, Florida has executed 37 people. But just as many death row inmates have died of other causes.

Frank Valdez died at the hands of guards. The other 36 from bad health.

Prosecutors are livid.

“In my opinion, the governor ought to sit down and sign about 60 or 70 of them today,” Meggs said. “And let’s get started and do a couple a week, until we get caught up.”

But those who have fought the state and won say the backlog will never be cleared.

“Even if you got serious about the death penalty and we started executing one or two a month, you’d still never catch up,” Spalding said.

And even prosecutor Meggs concedes the way the death penalty is applied now makes it “totally Ineffective.”

At least one of the 37 who died from cancer on death row was posthumously exonerated by DNA after spending more than 15 years facing death.

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