Amnesty International has issued a briefing on recent developments relating to the death penalty in Florida, ahead of a planned resumption of executions in the state on Thursday 24 August – 18 months after the last one.
“Death in Florida” outlines the state’s divided response to the January 2016 US Supreme Court decision that Florida’s capital sentencing law was unconstitutional.
When State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced that she would not seek the death penalty due to its demonstrable flaws, Governor Rick Scott immediately ordered her replacement with a prosecutor more willing to engage in this lethal pursuit. Since then, the Governor has transferred 26 cases to his preferred prosecutor.
State Attorney Ayala, the first African American to be elected to that position in Florida, cited racial discrimination as one of the death penalty’s flaws – along with its costs, risks and failure as a deterrent.
“Here are two officials taking very different approaches to the overwhelming evidence that the death penalty is a failed policy,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
“One says drop it, it is a waste of resources, prone to discrimination, arbitrariness and error. The other says crank up the machinery of death.
“One is acting consistently with international human rights principles. The other is not.”
The prisoner set to be executed on 24 August at 6pm is Mark Asay, who was sent to death row in 1988 for two murders committed in 1987. The last execution in Florida was of Oscar Bolin on 7 January 2016, five days before the US Supreme Court issued its Hurst v. Florida ruling that the state’s capital sentencing statute was unconstitutional.