Former Death Row Inmates Oppose 'Speeding Up' System [SLIDE SHOW]

By: Mike Vasilinda, James Buechele Email
By: Mike Vasilinda, James Buechele Email
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By: James Buechele
May 30, 2013
UPDATE 6:16 p.m.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed five death warrants this year, including one for Elmer Carroll who was executed last night.

Legislation on the governor's desk would speed up the process. Now, two former inmates are among those trying to stop it.

Seth Penalver and Herman Lindsey spent a combined 9 years on death row in Florida. Both are now free, exonerated men: numbers 23 and 24 in the state. They're now petitioning the so-called 'Timely Justice Act' which speeds up appeals in death sentences.

"This bill is very dangerous," said Herman Lindsey. "The reason it's dangerous, we have people, innocent people possibly getting exonerated."

Both Penalver and Lindsey presented a petition with 6,000 signatures on it to the governor's secretary asking Scott to veto the act.

Although the 'Timely Justice Act' passed in both the Florida house and senate last April, Governor Scott still hasn't decided if he will sign that bill into law.

"If this bill was actually in effect at the time of my being on death row, I probably wouldn't be here speaking to you all," said Penalver.

The two men wore a t-shirt that read 'You can release an innocent man from prison, but you can't release him from the grave."

The two men were at the capitol for a service remembering the man who was executed yesterday, Elmer Carroll and his victim, Christine McGowan.

By: Mike Vasilinda
May 30th, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Florida executed Elmer Carroll for the 1990 murder of 10 year old Christine McGowan. Today, opponents of the death penalty said a prayer for Christine, while asking the Governor not to sign legislation speeding up executions.

Two dozen death penalty opponents gathered at the state capitol. “We do not gather to excuse the crime,” says the group.

10 year old Christine McGowan was found strangled in her bed. Florida executed Elmer Carroll.

In the crowd of opponents, were two of the twenty four men Florida has sentenced to death and then released because they were later found to be innocent. “I am number 24. Seth Penalver. Exonerated last year in the state of Florida."

Mark Elliott from Floridians Against the Death Penalty, says “There are more innocent people on death row. It’s not something new. It’s ongoing.”

The two exonerees wanted to tell their story to Governor Rick Scott. They hope to convince him not to sign legislation designed to speed up executions. “I have a letter here from over 40 exonerees from death row from across the United States of America.”, says Penalver.

The goal of legislation being sent to the Governor is to cut the time on death row from 13 to 10 years. But eight of the people who have been exonerated were there more than a decade.

While the two exonerated men waited for a meeting, they questioned the state’s track record. Wednesday’s execution was the 76th in recent years. Penalver was the 24th innocent released from death row. “For everyone, for every three executed you have one innocent. We have a problem here.”, says Penalver.

Rick Scott was out of town. Two more executions are set for June.

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