So-called “Timely Justice Act” signed by Gov. Scott exacerbates tragedy of Florida’s broken death row

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

The following statement on Governor Rick Scott’s approval of HB 7083, “The Timely Justice Act,” may be attributed to Howard Simon, Executive Director, ACLU of Florida:

Shame on the Governor for putting the cynical calculation of his chances for re-election over ensuring that Florida will never execute an innocent person.  Signing the “Rush to Execute” bill (the grotesquely-named “Timely Justice Act”) will make this next year the deadliest and ugliest in the history of Florida’s death row.

Whatever else the Governor’s  goals and ambitions were – lowering taxes, creating jobs, restructuring our economy –  history will remember Scott for  executing more people than any other Florida Governor.  That will be his legacy.

When sometime in the future Florida faces the horror that the state has executed  an innocent person, as the bill the Governor signed today makes terrifyingly likely, Floridians need only look back to this day to answer the question of ‘how could this happen.’

The law signed by Governor Scott means that people will have less time to challenge a wrongful conviction than some of those who were able to prove their innocence spent on death row. That’s less time for the kind of evidence that exonerated some of Florida’s 24 death row exonerees to come to light.

Florida’s experience has been nearly one exoneree for every three people executed. Had this law been in effect in the past, innocent people very likely would have been killed. Why would Governor Scott think that the future will be any different?

The death penalty in Florida is already a tragedy, with more exonerations than any other state and a federal judge declaring our method of handing down death sentences unconstitutional. In this climate of increasing doubt about the accuracy, legality, and morality of our death penalty, Governor Scott has required himself to order the executions of 13 people by signing this rush-to-execute bill. His signature will make the next year the most deadly ever on Florida’s death row.

Worse still, the bill allows for the destruction of documents pertaining to a case after a person has been executed. This means that even after a rushed execution, people won’t be able to have a full record of what happened, casting further doubt on the process. If the state executed an innocent person, the destruction of the records will ensure that the people will never know about it. How are Floridians supposed to trust our justice system when records about what it does in our name are destroyed forever?

Given our state’s shameful track record, you’d think our leaders would at the very least make an effort to make sure our death penalty system is getting it right.  Instead, the governor and legislature floored the gas pedal on an already out-of-control machine, hurtling the people of Florida into a dangerous and violent future of their government killing people with more frequency and less certainty.

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