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Grim Reaping: Gov. Rick Scott Now Florida’s Record Holder For Most 1st Term Executions

| February 20, 2014

rick scott executions record governor florida

And he’s still signing more death warrants. (© FlaglerLive)

During Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, there have been more state executions in his first term than in any other modern day Florida governor’s first term.

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Marc Caputo with The Miami Herald did the numbers and found that “when Juan Carlos Chavez was put to death at 8:17 p.m. Wednesday, his execution marked the 13th on Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s watch — a record among first-term Florida governors since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.”

In comparison, here is the number of executions during the first terms of other governors, via the Herald: “Charlie Crist (2007-2011) oversaw the fewest executions, 5, in his single term. (Crist, now a Democrat, is running against Scott). Jeb Bush (1999-2007) was the prior first-term record holder with 11 executions in modern times. He still holds the all-time record: 21. Lawton Chiles (1991-1998) executed eight people in his first term and 10 more in his second. Bob Martinez (1987-1991) executed nine. Bob Graham (1979-1987) executed two in his first term and 14 in his second.”

In 1974, the Florida legislature re-enacted the death penalty for first degree murder. That statute didn’t get approval from the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court until 1976. Since it was approved, the state of Florida has executed more than 80 people.

The most recent change to Florida’s death penalty laws, though, were passed just last year.

This past June, Scott signed into law a bill that will speed up the state’s time frame for executing an inmate who has gone through the appeals process. The change, which is called The Timely Justice Act, garnered a lot of national attention and sparked criticism from civil rights and anti-death penalty groups from around the country.

According to a Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times article at the time: “The measure, dubbed “the Timely Justice Act” by its proponents, requires governors to sign death warrants 30 days after the Florida Supreme Court certifies that an inmate has exhausted his legal appeals and his clemency review.

florida center for investigative reporting“Once a death warrant is signed, the new law requires the state to execute the defendant within six months. […] The bill, which passed the House 84-34 and was approved by the Senate 28-10, allows the governor to control the execution schedule slightly because it requires him to sign a death warrant after the required clemency review is completed and only the governor may order the clemency investigation. Scott’s office told lawmakers that because at least 13 of the 404 inmates on Death Row have exhausted their appeals, his office has already started the clock on the clemency review.”

At the time the Herald/Times wrote that if “Scott were to sign death warrants for the 13 eligible inmates, and their executions were to continue as planned, he will be on schedule to put to death 21 murderers since he took office in January 2011.”

So far, executions are moving along pretty quickly.

Chavez, who was executed this past Wednesday, was the man who raped, killed and dismembered 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce in South Miami Dade in 1995.

The day after that execution, Scott signed a death warrant for Robert L. Henry. According to a memo from Scott’s office, “the execution date has been set for Thursday, March 20, 2014, at 6 p.m.”

Opponents of the state’s Timely Justice Act have argued that the pace at which death row inmates are killed is problematic mostly because of the state’s exoneration rate.

According to the ACLU of Florida, “Florida’s experience has been nearly one exoneree for every three people executed.” That means one out of every three people almost put to death by the state were later found innocent. Many times in the past, poor legal representations or evidence found late in the appeals process was to blame.

Florida currently leads the nation in the number of exonerees sitting on death row. In the past decade, 24 inmates awaiting execution were freed after courts found that they were wrongfully convicted.

–Ashley Lopez, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting


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22 Responses for “Grim Reaping: Gov. Rick Scott Now Florida’s Record Holder For Most 1st Term Executions”

  1. m&m says:

    That’s good. All executions should take place 6 to 12 months once the ruling comes down.. Lawyers are making a living by dragging these out for 20 to 30 years at tax payers expense when the ultimate was known for those 20 to 30 years..

  2. ScotchRox says:

    Your title implies that’s a bad thing??

  3. Jack Howell says:

    So, what is your point? When all avenues of due process have been exhausted, then I want the Governor to carry out the court imposed sentence. That is the law so enough of the bleeding heart verbiage!

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      I think the point is, Jack, that when it comes to capital punishment, Florida and Texas are at the forefront of barbaric judicial systems that have nothing to distinguish them from those of Pakistan, the Sudan, China and Iran, where capital punishment is also cheered and carried out with Scott-like enthusiasm. They have no excuse. We claim to have the 8th Amendment. But when enough Supreme Court justices can lethally inject that amendment with their tortured reasoning that executions are neither cruel nor unusual (because hey, death is a hospice walk in the park, after all), I imagine we can be comatose about it as well and damn the way it reflects on our claims to civility.

      • Jack Howell says:

        I understand your point and I respect it. I, on the other hand, believe in the death penalty. But, after all appeals and due process.

      • dlf says:

        Hey, that’s why we live in America , at least we do it in a semi- private setting. Give us some suggestions on what you do with a person who rapes and chops up a nine year old boy over 20 years ago, I am willing to hear you out. Do you want him living close to you, may be as a crime reporter for the Daytona news. I bet Big John will hire him for his radio station. What do you do with these kinds of people who have no respect for anyone not even a helpless nine year old? Are you implying Scott does this because he is not a liberal or because the law requires him to do his job. Would you, or could you do the same, I don’t think so.

  4. Reaganomicon says:

    Well I guess he’s good at something.

  5. Florida Native. says:

    Great job Governor Scott!

  6. RN Ratchet says:

    Way to go Rick…….Lets free up some more space for more murders to hang around on the Tax payers dime for 50 years!!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    While Governor Scott did not sentence these people to death, he appears to be doing everything in his power to promote Florida’s bloodthirsty image.

  8. Diana L says:

    Florida leads the nation in exonerations, 24. The death penalty is just perpetuating the cycle of violence. Killing is wrong no matter who does it.

  9. ryan says:

    Well, at least he is drowning out the perps’ rights movement by not making child molestors and cold blooded murderers sound like victims. I am sick of people advocating more for a truly guilty person on death row than for the victims or their families.

    • Diana L says:

      Opponents of the death penalty do not advocate more for the perpetrator than the victims. It is about many things, the fact that the state is murdering a human being, the chance that an innocent person may be put to death, that killing the perpetrator does not bring back the victim, killing a person just perpetuates the cycle of violence, that victims family and friends could get closure sooner if the ultimate punishment was life in prison without possibility of parole. Opponents of the death penalty pray for the victims family and friends. When I protest the death penalty, for moral reasons, the victims are very much in my heart and mind. It is not one or the other, please do not vilify us, because it is very possible that you don’t understand our feelings.

  10. Bill F says:

    Last I heard these people were convicted and sentenced by a jury of their peers. All the governor does is sign off on the executions, so if you don’t like it you need to blame the juries, not the governor. He is doing nothing more than honoring the juries’ sentences. People are sentenced to death because they disregarded their victims’ rights to life and deserve no more mercy than they gave their victims.

  11. Bill says:

    really you see no difference in ~ Florida and Texas ~ judicial systems that have nothing to distinguish them from those of Pakistan, the Sudan, China and Iran,” Are people innocent till proven guilty in thoose places? And this part people are not cheering nor is Scott cheering all he is doing isfollowing/enforcing the laws somthig you man 0bama know nothig about. ~” where capital punishment is also cheered and carried out with Scott-like enthusiasm”

  12. Anti Progressive says:

    Obama has “killed” more people with drones then any other president in history. Imagine that !!!

  13. I/M/O says:

    [Comment disallowed. Please make your point without insulting fellow-commenters.–FL]

  14. Born in Fla says:

    Congratulations Rick Scott you are the best christean governor we ever had.
    thankyou for sending those thugs to haydees.

    • A.S.F. says:

      @Born in Florida says–Although I am sure that the savior you refer to would not mind your spelling, I think he might take exception to the sentiment that lies behind it. I believe he spent his life rising above, “An eye for an eye.”

  15. Joana Isabel says:

    What a disgusting man………

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