When I saw Monday's Polk Pulse question about Florida possibly ceasing to impose the death penalty, I knew the results would be lopsided, but 89 percent voting to maintain the death penalty is somewhat shocking, even to someone as jaded as I am. Monday's article about this did not delve into the number of death row residents who have been exonerated or released on other grounds. By the way, Florida has had more death row cases overturned than any other state, certainly a point of pride we can all revel in.
Nor was there any mention of the increased cost of death sentences. People feel it is expensive to keep inmates in prison, and it is. But to find the real expense involved in death sentences, look to the costs that must be paid by the taxpayers - the costs for both sides on the appeals. Any other government program that cost so much, and returned so little would have been abolished decades ago.
So far, no one has claimed that Florida has executed an innocent person, but we kept Frank Lee Smith on death row until he died, and then he was determined to be innocent. Then there was James Richardson, who spent 21 years on death row until exonerated. And Janet Reno was excoriated for determining the state at fault in that case.
Finally, it really is interesting that the lead story Tuesday on page A1 was headlined "Polk Murder Rate Rises Alarmingly." Sure looks like the death penalty is working well in Polk County.
(source: Letter to the Editor, The Ledger)
Thanks to Rick Halperin's Death Penalty News & Updates!