A story in today's St. Pete Times reports that an ABA study on Florida's Death Penalty finds the need for "substantial reform to make it more fair and accurate"
According to the Times, the eight-member team assembled by the American Bar Association said in a 403-page report released today that the state should create a commission to study wrongful convictions and recommend methods to protect the innocent.
Florida leads the nation in exonerations, with 22 death row inmates released from prison since 1973.
According to the Times, the team took no stand for or against the death penalty but compared the state's procedures against 93 ABA standards and found Florida in compliance with only eight.
Members called for a new requirement of unanimous jury verdicts for death sentences, (author's note, this was the subject of a bill in Florida that failed this past legislative session) since Florida is the only state that allows a jury to decide by mere majority.
The report also recommended the state adopt standards ensuring a convicted person will have qualified attorneys who receive adequate payment during the appeals process; create statewide standards determining who can be charged with a capital crime; and establish new rules forbidding death sentences and executions of those with serious mental disabilities.
One of the team members says he "hopes the state takes the report's recommendations seriously and enacts changes so "innocent people are not put to death."
Not a bad idea.
Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com
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