The text of HB 7083, the Timely Justice Act is available, via the Florida Legislature website. It was one of 60 bills that Florida Governor Rick Scott signed Friday afternoon.
"Scott signs bill speeding up capital punishment," is AP coverage by Gary Fineout and Tamara Lush.. It's via the Miami Herald.
Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a measure designed to overhaul the state's capital punishment process. That process has been criticized for allowing some condemned inmates to remain for decades on death row.
The "Timely Justice Act of 2013" creates tighter timeframes for appeals and post-conviction motions and imposes reporting requirements on case progress.
It also re-establishes a separate agency for north Florida to provide appellate-level legal representation to inmates sentenced to death, and requires them to "pursue all possible remedies in state court."
Scott said in his signing statement that the state's current death row inmates who have exhausted their judicial appeals have been awaiting execution for an average of 22 years.
"An inmate who has been on death row for 22 years has had a fair opportunity to discover all of the evidence needed to challenge his conviction, especially when the inmate has received the multiple levels of review and the extraordinary due process afforded death-sentenced offenders," Scott wrote. He said such lengthy delays are "a crushing burden of uncertainty to the victims' families."
But even before the new law Scott has picked up the pace of executions. Two men - Elmer Leon Carroll and William Van Poyck - have been executed by lethal injection in the last month. A third man - Marshall Lee Gore - is scheduled to be executed on June 24. Scott, a Republican, has signed 11 death warrants since taking office in 2011 and seven executions have been carried out.
Florida has 405 inmates on its death row, more than any other state except California.
"Scott Signs Fast-Track Execution Bill, Making 13 Death Row Inmates Immediately Eligible," is by Flagler Live and News Service of Florida.
Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed the controversial “Timely Justice Act,” a measure aimed at reducing delays in carrying out the death penalty in Florida. The signature makes at least 13 inmates immediately eligible for death warrants, which must be signed within 30 days of the state Supreme Court certifying that an inmate’s appeals and clemency reviews have been exhausted. Once the governor signs a death warrant, executioners at Starke state prison have six months to carry out the killing.
Opponents have argued that the measure (HB 7083) will heighten the possibility of executing innocent people, but Scott rejected that argument as he signed it. With that new law, Scott may be on course to sign the death warrants of at least 21 inmates since he took office, in one term, equaling the number of inmates executed during Jeb Bush’s eight years. On Wednesday, William van Poyck became the eighth inmate executed on Scott’s watch. Marshall Gore will be the ninth when he is killed by lethal injection on June 24.
Since Florida resumed executions in the 1970’s, twenty-four wrongfully convicted death row prisoners have been exonerated thus far (the largest number of wrongfully convicted and exonerated death-sentenced prisoners of any state in the country) while seventy-seven prisoners have been executed. “That’s one exoneration for every three executions,” said Mark Elliott, Director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. “It is unconscionable to hurry up executions and further restrict access to evidence of innocence.”
The measure cuts the time between sentencing and execution by imposing strict time frames for appeals, post-conviction motions and reports on case progress.
In part, it requires the clerk of the Florida Supreme Court to notify the governor when a Death Row inmate’s state and federal court appeals have been completed. The governor would then have 30 days to issue a death warrant if the executive clemency process has finished. The warrant would require that the execution be carried out within 180 days.
"Gov. Rick Scott Signs Bill To Speed Up Executions In Florida," is by Mary Ellen Klas for the Tampa Bay Times.
The bill, which passed the House 84-34 and was approved by the Senate 28-10, allows the governor to control the execution schedule slightly because it requires him to sign a death warrant after the required clemency review is completed and only the governor may order the clemency investigation. Scott's office told lawmakers that because at least 13 of the 404 inmates on death row have exhausted their appeals, his office has already started the clock on the clemency review.
If Scott were to sign death warrants for the 13 eligible inmates, and their executions were to continue as planned, he will be on schedule to put to death 21 people since he took office in January 2011. The only other recent governor who executed that many people was former Gov. Jeb Bush, who ordered the execution of 21 convicted killers over an eight-year period.
The only governor to commute a death sentence since the state passed its current capital punishment law in 1973 was former Gov. Bob Graham, who reduced the sentences of seven men between 1979 and 1983 for various reasons, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
The clemency provision was added at the request of Scott's general counsel, Pete Antonacci. The clemency investigation allows for the state Parole Commission to conduct an off-the-record review of the entire case and recommend whether the death warrant be signed or the sentence commuted.
Opponents warn that the accelerated clock will diminish the opportunity to exonerate anyone on death row who has been wrongly convicted, reduce the opportunity to challenge convictions because of ineffective counsel and produce a "bloodbath" of executions in the next month.
"Governor signs bill to shorten execution delays," by Dara Kam and John Kennedy for the Palm Beach Post.
Rejecting nearly 15,000 pleas for a veto, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a measure speeding up executions. The law includes protections for Death Row convicts and “does not increase the risk of execution of persons who did not commit murder,” the governor said.
The Florida Current posts, "Governor signs 60 new laws," by Bill Cotterell.
Mark Elliott, director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said Florida leads the nation in death row exonerations with 24 inmates freed by DNA evidence or other factors, often discovered long after sentencing.
"No one knows how many more innocent people are awaiting execution on Florida's death row," Elliott said. "A new law that speeds up executions by limiting appeals will almost certainly lead to the execution of innocent men and women."
Earlier coverage from Florida begins at the link.