Florida’s death penalty system has come to epitomize the typical big, dysfunctional government program. It is marred by failures, including wrongful convictions and rising costs. It fails to adequately protect society, often harms murder victims’ families, and the Sunshine State’s capital sentencing scheme has been declared unconstitutional twice in just the last year. As a result, roughly 200 people on death row must be resentenced.
As the death penalty’s many shortcomings have come to light, an increasing number of notable conservatives from across the country have turned against it. Many in Florida have taken note of CCATDP’s activities and reached out to me, asking how they can become more involved.
Consequently, I helped organize a press conference on June 14, where the Florida Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty officially launched, making it the 12th state-based CCATDP group so far. Conservative leaders from around the state passionately explained why the death penalty is inconsistent with conservatism, and they called on prosecutors to reject death sentences for those whose cases are now in limbo.
“Part of my faith is grounded in the fact that all life is sacred,” said Brian Empric, former Vice-Chairman of the Florida Federation of Young Republicans. Yet, the death penalty inherently devalues life and even unnecessarily risks innocent life, as Daniel Lopez from Young Americans for Liberty pointed out. This can clearly be seen in Florida where more people (27) have been wrongly convicted and sentenced to die than any other state.
Other press conference participants included the former Assistant Florida Attorney General James Purdy, who noted the death penalty’s exorbitant expense. Retired Miami-Dade detective and current conservative columnist Marshall Frank explained how the death penalty doesn’t deter crime, and Chairwoman of Florida’s Young Americans for Liberty, Kelli Huck, said that the imposition of an irreversible penalty is “not a decision I think Uncle Sam should be making.” Her statement was met with nods of agreement from the crowd.
As a former Florida resident who used to work for the National Rifle Association in Panama City Beach, I also spoke at the press conference. I shared how the death penalty can be a protracted and retraumatizing process that forces the families of murder victims to endure decades of uncertainty, but it rarely offers any healing.
At the end of our statements, we fielded numerous questions from reporters, which resulted in dozens of media hits from across the state. Some passers by even stopped to listen and offer their support.
While this is a promising step, we still have work to do to educate people about the death penalty – in Florida and throughout the country, and you can help! Click here to share an article from Facing South with your friends and colleagues. It covers both the event as well as the current death penalty chaos in Florida.
Thank you for your continued interest and involvement in CCATDP!
If you missed the press conference, you can watch it here: