Ahead of a planned resumption of executions in Florida on August 24, 18 months after the last one, Amnesty International is issuing a paper on recent developments relating to the death penalty in the state.
“Death in Florida” outlines the state’s response to the January 2016 Supreme Court decision that Florida’s capital sentencing law was unconstitutional, and the governor’s reaction to a prosecutor’s subsequent decision to reject the death penalty.
When State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced that she would not seek the death penalty due to its demonstrable flaws, Governor Scott immediately responded by ordering her replacement with a different prosecutor more willing to engage in this lethal pursuit. So far the governor has transferred 27 cases to his preferred prosecutor.
Racial discrimination was one of the death penalty’s flaws – along with its costs, risks and failure as a deterrent – cited by State Attorney Ayala, the first African American to be elected to that position in Florida.
“We have seen time and again that the death penalty is irrevocably broken both in Florida and throughout the United States,” said Kristina Roth, senior program officer for criminal justice at Amnesty International USA. “It is discriminatory, arbitrary, and cruel. While states are increasingly moving away from capital punishment or do away with it altogether, Florida is backsliding on progress by resuming executions.”
The prisoner set to be executed on August 24 at 6 p.m. 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 January 7, 2016, five days before the Supreme Court issued its Hurst v. Florida ruling that the state’s capital sentencing statute was unconstitutional.