The Florida Death Penalty
The death penalty, or capital punishment, is the killing of a person as punishment for society’s most serious crimes. The word ‘capital’ comes from the Latin ‘capitalis’ which means ‘regarding the head.’ Therefore, a capital crime was originally punished by severing the head.
Capital punishment is legal in Florida. Florida was the first state to reintroduce the death penalty after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Furman vs.State of Georgia in 1976. Since then, 69 people have been executed at the Florida State Prison in Starke. Before 1972, murder was not the only capital crime in Florida. People were also executed for rape and, in earlier years, for helping runaway slaves. Now, capital felonies in Florida are restricted to murder.
Types of Capital Murder Felonies in Florida
1) Capital Murder – the unlawful killing of a person that is premeditated. This means you kill someone after consciously deciding to do it. A conscious decision must be in your mind at the time of the killing.
2) Capital Murder – when a murder was committed and you were involved in robbery, burglary, kidnapping, drug trafficking, carjacking, arson, sexual battery, home invasion or airline hijacking.
Florida used to execute criminals by public hangings in the counties where the crimes were committed. In 1923, the Florida Legislature passed a law replacing hanging with the electric chair and all executions moved into prisons. Lethal injection became the standard method of execution in 2000. Today, a black-hooded executioner performs the task. He is paid $150 per execution. The black hood gives him anonymity.
Life is grim for the 385 people who are waiting to die at Starke. They are counted once an hour. They are escorted everywhere in handcuffs. They are allowed one shower every other day. They do not have cable television or air-conditioning and they are not allowed to be with each other in a common room. When a death warrant is signed, the inmate is put under Death Watch and is allowed one legal and social phone call. Prior to execution, the inmate may request a last meal that can cost no more than $40. Some people have been waiting to be executed for almost 30 years. For these people, waiting to die is worse than being dead.
These are the worst crimes in society. These are the times when only the best criminal defense attorney in Palm Beach County will do.