That's the title of the Gainesville Sun editorial criticizing Gov. Rick Scott's signing of the Timely Justice Act.
The Timely Justice Act does contain provisions to help ensure death-sentenced inmates get proper legal representation. It re-establishes the northern office of an entity that represents those inmates in post-conviction proceedings. It had been abolished in a privatization project under Bush.
But more must be done to fix a flawed death-penalty process in the state. One big problem is that Florida is one of just two states that don't require a unanimous jury for a death sentence.
Other reforms could prevent people from being imprisoned for crimes they didn't commit. Texas, even with its reputation as a pro-death penalty state, has implemented measures to prevent the false witness identifications that are a leading cause of wrongful convictions.
It's up to Scott now to use the clemency process to prevent the state from executing an innocent person. He would do more to promote the cause of justice if he also embraced reforms to help ensure those cases never get that far.
"Death Trap," is Emily Bazelon's post at Slate.
In theory, the Timely Justice Act tries to improve the quality of representation for death penalty defendants by providing more funding for it. But if you read the bill, you find that only about $400,000 has been allocated to reopen one office for defense lawyers in the northern part of the state. And this office won’t handle trials or even the first appeal. They come in only at the last stage.
If you really wanted to fix Florida’s death penalty system, you wouldn’t speed it up in a fit of frustration. You’d do the opposite. “Really what we need to do is pause,” says Stephen K. Harper, a longtime death penalty defense lawyer and the supervising attorney in the death penalty clinic at Florida International University’s law school. “Let’s step back, let’s consider the death penalty, from beginning through the end, and only then would we be able to come up with decent recommendations as to how to change it.”
That’s just not what’s happening. Now that Scott has signed the Timely Justice Act, the governor’s own legal advisor says, there are 13 inmates on death row whose final state of review “will be done within the next year.’’
Earlier coverage of the Florida legislation begins at the link.