Ahead of a planned resumption of executions in Florida on 24 August, 18 months after the last one, Amnesty International is issuing a paper on recent developments relating to the death penalty in the US state.
“Death in Florida” outlines the state’s response to the January 2016 US 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 26 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.
“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.