Van Poyck’s execution signals that the number of inmates being executed in Florida is rising . There are 405 people on death row in the state. After a period of one or two executions per year, or none at all , Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed 11 death warrants since coming into office in January 2011, six of them in the last few months.
That’s not enough for the Florida legislature. It recently became the first in the country to pass a bill requiring the pace of executions to speed up. It’s called the Timely Justice Act , and it sets a deadline of 30 days for the governor to sign a death warrant once an inmate’s appeals become final—that is, after at least one round of state and federal appeals, and after a review by the governor for clemency. And once the governor signs the warrant, the Timely Justice Act says the execution must occur within 180 days. Scott signed the bill into law late Friday.
This is a particularly troubling plan given the circumstances in Florida. Since the mid-1970s, the state has executed 77 people. Florida has also exonerated 24 people who’ve been sentenced to die—the most of any state . In other words, for every three inmates executed, one is set free.
Once more, bad news from Florida. I think the death penalty is wrong and horrible on principle, but this is especially terrifying.