Death Penalty Recommendations Ignored

The reason, Paul Johnson still has the right to appeal his sentencing.

Governor Charlie Crist may have signed Johnson’s death warrant prematurely, but political pressure to speed up Johnson’s execution was mounting.

On January 9th, 1981, Paul Johnson, shot and killed a Polk County Deputy and two others.

He was sentenced to death for the murders, but the Florida Supreme Court is ordering a stay of execution, saying Governor Charlie Crist may have jumped the gun in Johnson’s case.

Crist signed Johnson’s death warrant even though the convicted killer hadn’t exhausted his appeals, but political pressure was mounting on the governor.

More than 2,200 people signed a petition asking Crist to sign the death certificate.

ACLU Attorney Larry Spalding doesn’t know why Crist was so eager but says politics should never taint such dire decisions.

“You shouldn’t react on emotional calls to do things. You react rationally and responsible and working within the system,” said Spalding.

A system many say is broken. Florida is the only state with capital punishment that allows a jury hand down the death sentence without a unanimous vote.

Three years ago The American Bar Association recommended changes to the system.

Mark Schlakman was one of eight lawyers working on the report.

The recommendations have been ignored.

“It is apprehension by elected officials as the possibility of being branded as anything but tough on crime, but these issues don’t go to whether one is tough on crime, they go to administration of justice,” said Schlakman.

More than 20 death row inmates have been exonerated since executions resumed in 1979.

Executions also come with a hefty price tag.

On average two death row inmates are executed in Florida every year, at a cost of 51 million dollars to taxpayers.

Life in prison for an inmate entering the system at 20 years old, costs an estimated 1.5 million tax dollars.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by sparky Location: Tampa on Nov 5, 2009 at 09:15 AM
    The Commission on Capital Cases researched all of the so-called "exonorations" of "innocent" people released from death row. This study debunks the myth that "over 20 innocent people were convicted of capital murder in Florida. For details, suggest you read:
  • by Myself Location: Florida on Oct 30, 2009 at 06:18 AM
    Give justice to the people that were killed. Kill the sob and get it over with.
  • by ccw Location: inyourface on Oct 30, 2009 at 05:38 AM
    Why does it take almost 30 yrs to execute , LAWYER'S and that is why the cost is high paying lawyer's to appeal and appeal. Give them 3 yrs max. to appeal and then execute. It will save money and give justice and closure to the victim's family.
  • by Docker Location: Tallahassee on Oct 30, 2009 at 04:49 AM
    Where did the statistics come from that were bandied about in this article? The ACLU? The American Trial Lawyers?Preudiced sources to say the least.The perp was concicted in 1981 and you think his death warrant is premature? Sheesh.
WCTV 1801 Halstead Blvd. Tallahassee, FL 32309
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 67414877 -
Gray Television, Inc.