Thursday, August 30

Frank White Would Strengthen The Death Penalty--What's That Mean?

gladiator death penalty florida
Florida has the death penalty for murder, capital drug trafficking, armed kidnapping, and some felony crimes when there are death or sexual components to the felony charge. While I assume we've only executed people for murder, the other offenses do qualify. I also assume that life in prison is an option that sometimes is chosen, based on recommendations from the jury, based on whether or not the murder had certain aggravating factors. Then, once the jury decides death is the best course of action, the judge has to agree.

Here's a list of the factors that help us Floridians decide if we'll sentence someone to death:
a. Trafficking offense prohibited by s. 893.135(1), b. Arson, c. Sexual battery, d. Robbery, e. Burglary, f. Kidnapping, g. Escape, h. Aggravated child abuse, i. Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, j. Aircraft piracy, k. Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb, l. Carjacking, m. Home-invasion robbery, n. Aggravated stalking, o. Murder of another human being, p. Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person, q. Aggravated fleeing or eluding with serious bodily injury or death, r. Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism, including a felony under s. 775.30, s. 775.32, s. 775.33, s. 775.34, or s. 775.35, or s. Human trafficking; or 3. Which resulted from the unlawful distribution by a person 18 years of age or older of any of the following substances, or mixture containing any of the following substances, when such substance or mixture is proven to be the proximate cause of the death of the user: a. A substance controlled under s. 893.03(1); b. Cocaine, as described in s. 893.03(2)(a)4.; c. Opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium; d. Methadone; e. Alfentanil, as described in s. 893.03(2)(b)1.; f. Carfentanil, as described in s. 893.03(2)(b)6.; g. Fentanyl, as described in s. 893.03(2)(b)9.; h. Sufentanil, as described in s. 893.03(2)(b)30.; or i. A controlled substance analog, as described in s. 893.0356, of any substance specified in sub-subparagraphs a.-h.
If we were to say we wanted to be stronger on the death penalty, the three options would be to attempt to prosecute it for more of the crimes on this list, attempt to make it happen more often once prosecuted, or attempt to make death itself stronger.

While I am sure the death penalty in Florida could be sought more often, I don't think it would make sense to do so if there's little chance for jurors or the judge to agree. For example, I'm not sure that a previous conviction for kidnapping your own child would make the jury feel that the current murder trial would warrant death. Regardless of what the factors were that led to the actual murder being tried, I assume the jury wants to think about the one particular murder being tried. In fact, life in prison without parole would ensure these crimes don't happen again, anyhow, which is probably why my home state of Wisconsin has not had the death penalty since 1853. What I am convinced of is that jurors are really thinking about the victim more than anything else, and if that victim somehow seems to deserve vengeance, then the jury will go for it.

Another way to strengthen the death penalty would be to make sure it actually happens more often once prosecuted. That might be by taking the jury or judge out of the mix, depending on which one tends to vote against it more often. But I think that would take a rewriting of the state statutes, and it's not something the attorney general can really do on his own. It might also take a change to the appeals process. Again, I'm not sure one person has the ability to change this. The idea here is that some people might get sentenced to death and never get executed, or they might squeak by because their judge never goes for death. Some states allow only 10 of 12 jurors to vote for death, so that might be the idea, too.

The last possibility, and the one I thought of first when I heard the ad, is that White wanted death to be stronger. To me, the death penalty is the strongest it can be just by being death. You know, the great unknown. In my own mind, the only thing that could strengthen death would be to make it more of a suffering situation, like not offering a final meal or not allowing clergy to discuss repentance. Wikipedia seems to indicate we have the lethal injection or electric chair here in Florida. An inmate can apparently choose the electric chair if he's afraid of needles. Maybe Frank wanted to make the chair standard, or bring back hanging, or the firing squad. I guess you could figure out the inmates greatest fear and make that happen. Or have it mimic the actual murder itself.

Did you know that in Iran, a country where a woman can be stoned to death for cheating on her husband, the family of the victim decides the fate of the convicted felon? That's something to consider, but I suppose it wouldn't be strengthening the death penalty, unless we make cheating on spouses punishable by death. Honestly, I'm cool with changing things up a bit. I mean, if we're going to be the only first-world country with the death penalty, let's add some American flair to it. Like a death penalty room with puzzles to solve before the bomb strapped around your neck explodes. Could be televised, I suppose. Wait, did you ever see The Running Man? Maybe that's what Frank White had in mind. If we went to sport-like executions, would you watch or would you be disgusted? Most people claim they wouldn't watch, but keep in mind that we've had over 20 seasons of The Bachelor, so someone would watch gladiator-style executions.

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