The Miami Herald syndicated columnist and best-selling novelist Carl Hiaasen writes, "Let’s put an end to the executions."
The execution of Thomas Knight last week is a textbook case for why Florida’s dysfunctional death penalty should be scrapped.
Here was a man whose guilt was never in doubt, whose crimes were cold-blooded, whose attitude remained remorseless and often defiant — yet the system took nearly 40 years to close the book.
In South Florida, Knight will be remembered for abducting and killing a Bay Harbor Islands couple, Sydney and Lillian Gans, in 1974. After a frantic manhunt he was found hiding in the mud with the rifle used in the crime, and $50,000 cash that he’d forced Gans to withdraw from a bank.
Ironically, Knight wasn’t executed for those murders. In 1980 he fatally stabbed prison guard Richard Burke with a sharpened spoon, and it was that homicide that finally delivered him to the death chamber for a lethal injection.
His case had dragged on so long that last year a federal appeals court lamented: “To learn about the gridlock and inefficiency of death penalty litigation, look no further than this appeal.”
The day before Knight was put to death, another Death Row veteran named Robert Patten departed without fanfare. Many won’t remember who he was, but back in 1981 he shot dead a young Miami police officer named Nathaniel Broom.
Patten was first sentenced to die in 1985, appealed, was resentenced to die in 1989, and of course continued to appeal.
Twenty-five long years later, he wasn’t even executed by the state. Prison officials said he died of natural causes, which isn’t uncommon on Death Row due to the aging inmate population.
It’s time for Florida to get out of the costly execution business, and let cancer and clogged arteries do what the justice system can’t.
"Scott’s first official act in 2014 signing a death warrant," is by Roger Caldwell in Broward County's Westside Gazette.
“Six states in the last six years have gotten rid of the death penalty. The numbers of executions are down, and the numbers of death sentences are down in the world,” says Mark Elliot of Floridians for Alternatives to Death Penalty (FADP). In America, there are 18 states that have outlawed death sentences, but not in Florida.
There is something wrong in Florida, when the leader of the state wants to go down in Florida’s history as the governor who put the most citizens to death. Even though, all around the nation there is a movement to lower executions, our governor is determined to increase the pace. In a sadistic and confusing manner, the governor believes he is doing the right thing, and saving Floridians money.
Shortly, Florida will become the third most populous state in the nation, and our governor is determined to make a name for the state, for sending the most people to the death chamber. In 2013, Governor Scott had seven executions, and in 2014, it appears that he wants to break Ex-Governor Bob Graham’s record of eight.
Earlier coverage from Florida begins at the link.