Up in Tallahassee, there’s a new bill that will be considered in the 2015 session of the Florida House: if it is passed into law, it will force the State of Florida to reveal the names of those people who act as executioners in Florida death penalty executions.
Right now, no one knows who these people are. This is not traditional, historically.
While there were those black-hooded executioners, the identity of most executioners over time has been known to the public. The man who beheaded Lady Jane Grey, for instance, was not secret (read an eyewitness account of that execution, where her last conversation was with her executioner).
Ditto those who took Marie Antoinette to the French Guillotine (her execution seen in the image below)
Florida Bill HB 4003
If HB 4003 is passed, then those who want to do away with capital punishment think that they will be one step closer to ending the death penalty in Florida. Why? Well, for one thing, Florida executes with lethal injection and we would all know the amount of medical training (or lack thereof) of the state executioners.
Remember Oklahoma’s botched lethal injection execution? It’s a big question now in that state — what training or expertise did that executioner have?
HB 4003 — Death Penalty
Death Penalty: Deletes provisions providing for death penalty for capital felonies; deletes associated provisions, including provisions relating to representation in death penalty cases, capital collateral representation, jurors in capital cases, prohibiting imposition of death sentence on defendant with mental retardation, determination of whether to impose sentence of death or life imprisonment for capital felony or capital drug trafficking felony, issuance of warrant of execution, stay of execution of death sentence, proceedings when person under sentence of death appears to be insane, proceedings when person under sentence of death appears to be pregnant, grounds for death warrant, execution of death sentence, prohibition against reduction of death sentence as result of determination that method of execution is unconstitutional, sentencing orders in capital cases, regulation of execution, transfer to state prison for safekeeping before death warrant issued, return of warrant of execution issued by Governor, sentence of death unexecuted for unjustifiable reasons, & return of warrant of execution issued by Supreme Court.
The Death Penalty Information Center has published its year-end report regarding the Death Penalty in the United States. Florida (and Texas) figure prominently in the study.
Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for his work, and his column is published twice a week in the Miami Herald.
Recently, Mr Pitts expressed his opinion on capital punishment in this country in a piece that Terry Lenamon thought should be shared here, for those interested in the death penalty and how it is implemented regarding the mentally ill - specifically, Scott Panetti:
The State of Texas was set to execute Scott Panetti today at six o'clock - but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just issued a stay of execution - here is the single page issued from the federal appellate court this morning:
Terry Lenamon deals with the issues of death penalty sentencing and the seeking of capital punishment for those defendants who suffer from mental illness as part of his practice.
Panetti is diagnosed to suffer from schizophrenia. Should the death penalty apply in his case?
Key to this case is the Texas legal perspective regarding cognition of right vs wrong on the part of the defendant and the federal constitutional prohibition against execution of the mentally ill via the Eighth Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment.