Florida has a long history of highly publicized dealth penalty cases. While those cases don’t always end in convictions, the possibility of the dealth penalty is still a contentious issue. Last night the group “Gainesville Citizens for Alternatives to the Death Penalty” hosted State Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda of Tallahassee, as well as the first person exonerated from the dealth penalty in the state of Florida. David Keaton is that exoneree. He discussed his experience being an innocent man on death row for two years. He says people should remember, when thinking about the death penalty, that what happened to him could easily happen to them.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/Keaton1deathpenalty.mp3]
Being an innocent on death row shook Keaton. He says the experience fundamentally changed his view of the judicial system.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/Keaton3deathpenalty.mp3]
Representative Rehwinkel Vasilinda is against the dealth penalty. She claims it is an improper use of power…and that the state could save 45 million dollars from abolishing it. Jeremy Schroeder, who serves as counsel for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, agrees.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/Schroeder 2.mp3]
Schroeder says the dealth penalty might not even offer justice or closure to a victim’s family. He says it may even bring them emotional harm.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/Schroeder 3.mp3]
Sister Dorothea Murphy, a retired nun from the Ministry for Justice and Reconciliation, attended the event. She says she’s worked with death row inmates during her time in the convent.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/Murphy2.mp3]
Given her experiences with the inmates, Murphy says she can’t imagine bringing death upon someone, no matter the crime.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/Murphy1.mp3]
For now, though, the death penalty remains legal in the state of Florida. To date, the state has carried out 72 executions.