Posted: May 15, 2013 1:00 PM
An editorial in Wednesday’s New York Times called a Florida bill that would speed up execution dates for death row inmates’ grotesque, adding that Clemente Javier Aguirre-Jarquin’s case is a good reason why the governor should veto it.
The Timely Justice Act would require a governor to sign a death warrant within 30 days of a review of a capital conviction by the State Supreme Court, and the state would be required to execute the defendant within 180 days of the warrant.
The state’s indisputably defective death penalty system is made more horrifying by attempts to rush inmates to execution. There is a strong chance that Mr. Aguirre-Jarquin will become the 25th death-row inmate exonerated in Florida since it reinstated capital punishment in 1973. More death-row inmates have been exonerated in Florida than in any state.
As the American Bar Association explained in a scathing 2006 report on the state’s death penalty system, Florida is one of the few states that allows a jury to recommend a sentence of death based on a majority vote rather than a unanimous one. Defendants charged with capital crimes often have woefully unqualified counsel, and are much more likely to be convicted and sentenced to death if the victim is white — a sign of racial disparity that is clearly unconstitutional. The flaws in Florida’s system, which soaks up huge amounts of resources, cannot be fixed. It is long past time to abolish capital punishment.
Aguirre has been on Florida’s death row since 2006 for the murders of Williams and Bareis, a mother and daughter who were found stabbed to death in their trailer in Seminole County on June 17, 2004. New DNA testing reveals Aguirre’s innocence and points to a family member of the victims as the perpetrator.
The Innocence Project and lead counsel for Aguirre are presenting compelling new evidence at a hearing this week. Aguirre’s family was unable to travel from Honduras to attend the hearing, but he was joined in court yesterday by New York exoneree John Restivo who resides in Florida and the parents of Florida exoneree Wilton Dedge, who was exonerated in the same county where the hearing is taking place.
Read the full editorial.
Read coverage of the hearing.
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