Lawmakers aim to make sweeping changes to death penalty

Posted at 6:07 PM, Apr 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-15 14:38:24-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL)--There are more than 400 inmates on Florida's death row. Soon that number could be going down. Lawmakers want to clear out death row.

Here's how. In a new bill, lawmakers are deciding on tighter time frames for appeals and post conviction motions, and would make it harder for inmates to dismiss lawyers. State Representative Matt Gaetz has called it a broken system.

"We had more death sentences handed down then any other state and at the same time we have the most death sentences that have ever been overturned," said McCarron.

Others - like Mike McCarron with the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops say he's concerned the new law could mean more executions of inmates who may be innocent.

"If the process is accelerated we want to make sure that theres not the possibility of executing an innocent percent," said McCarron.

McCarron says more than 20 death row inmates have been freed after being found they had not committed the crime they were convicted of.

But some lawmakers argue the families who have lost a loved one have waited long enough and is costing taxpayers too much money to care for the inmates.

It costs more than $60 dollars a day to take care of an inmate on death row. The average death row inmate spends at least 13.22 years in prison, the total for one year is more than $21,000 dollars. If you multiply that number by 13 years, that's nearly $300,000 of taxpayer money.

But some say they hope lawmakers take a close look.

"As long as they take a look at what the crime was actually about and how well the conviction was done on it, because some people are going to get convicted that haven't had anything to do with it and they may lose their chance at getting that appeal that really need," said Barry Pope, who supports the changes.