A Free Market May Kill the Death Penalty in Florida

The death penalty has been a long contested issue in Florida. Now with the new restrictions on the ability to buy lethal drugs, how will the correctional departments of Florida and politicians respond? With so many changes in the laws and the availability of the drugs used in death penalties, what will happen to this form of punishment? The article below describes the issues that lawmakers face now that the free market has made a decision on lethal drugs used in death penalties.

Florida faces a defining moment on the death penalty, though not because lawmakers finally listened to experts who roundly agree it's better, smarter and cheaper to sentence bad people to life in prison, and then throw away the key.

No, Florida faces a pivotal moment because free enterprise has put its foot down. No longer do major pharmaceutical companies want to sell drugs to states that execute people.

For moral or business reasons, more than 20 American and European drug companies have stopped selling drugs to corrections departments. Last week, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer became the latest to impose sweeping controls that prevent its drugs from being used in capital punishment. Pfizer's decision "means all FDA-approved manufacturers of any potential execution drug have now blocked their sale for this purpose," Maya Foa, a human rights activist, told The New York Times.

"Executing states must now go underground if they want to get hold of medicines for use in lethal injection," she said.

Now that the free market has spoken, how will Florida politicians respond?

For the moment, the Florida Department of Corrections is saying little, including whether it has stockpiled any death drugs.

But clearly, Florida should not shop the black market to execute someone who broke the law.

It's time for tough-on-crime politicians to say they've done their best, but their hands are tied. Besides, there's a persuasive case to be made that life without parole is a fate worse than death.

Given Florida's tortured history with executions, it's time to give it up.

Remember Old Sparky? After flames shot from the heads of the condemned, Florida finally outlawed the electric chair in 2000, believing the U.S. Supreme Court was about to find the process cruel and unusual punishment.

But lethal injection has brought its own set of problems. In 2006, it took more than an hour and a second round of drugs to kill Angel Nieves Diaz, who was convicted of killing a strip club manager.

And in 2013, after a Danish manufacturer prohibited the sale of its pentobarbital sodium for executions, Florida put together a three-drug cocktail that included midazolam hydrochloride, a sedative never before used in capital punishment. But when the state executed William Happ, the Associated Press reported that he "remained conscious longer and made more body movements" than people executed by the old formula.

Beyond how the state kills people, Florida remains an outlier for how it imposes the death penalty.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court put Florida's death penalty on hold because it let judges, not juries, make the final decision.

This spring, state lawmakers tried to fix the problem by giving juries the final say. They also said 10 of 12 jurors must agree on the sentence, rather than a simple majority of seven.

But earlier this month, a Miami judge said the so-called fix was unconstitutional because it doesn't require a unanimous jury verdict.

Plus, don't forget that Florida leads the nation in getting the death penalty wrong — having exonerated 26 people who've been sentenced to death row, more than any other state.

Florida should listen to the families, the communities and now the free market. It should join the 19 other states that have banned the death penalty. It's time to get this call right, once and for all.

It is important to have an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney by your side in court so you don’t join the percentage of those wrongfully accused and face the death penalty. If you are looking for a Defense Attorney, contact me Ron Chapman at 561-832-4348 or connect with my West Palm Beach Law office online. I am dedicated to defending your rights and can help you with your legal case.

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