Post 8: Re-set

David writes:

There was an execution on May 23rd. The first for the newly elected Governor. Now everybody is anxiously waiting to see what he does next. The previous Governor set the record for the most executions by a Governor of Florida. Hopefully, topping that number isn’t a goal for this Governor.

As long as I’ve been here, you would think that it’s just another day. But you can’t ignore the reality of the situation. When you exhaust your appeals, you’re eligible, and there’s no way around that. This was the 39th execution in Florida during my time on the Row, and it doesn’t get any easier. Of course you don’t ever forget where you’re at. You’re reminded by the cell bars every morning. But when there’s an execution, it’s like a pause, and you have to re-set.

Some executions affect you more than others, more so when you got to know that person, but even if you have never met that person you feel something, because deep down you know that could’ve been you.

So it’s time for me to re-set, and hope that this Governor didn’t get the satisfaction that the previous Governor obviously got, with each one he oversaw.

One love,

David.

Post 7: As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods…..

As David’s friends, we don’t want you to feel sorry for us. We’re happy to have a good friend in our lives. And actually David doesn’t want you to feel sorry for him either. 
But we want you to, sometimes, feel angry. As we do. With the random twists and turns of a system that, as David said in his last post, is all about politics. And plays with people’s lives as political flips of a coin. Last week we came across this article. It made us angry and scared…..

“More than 100 inmates condemned to death could face a major upheaval, as a revamped Florida Supreme Court ponders whether to undo a 2016 ruling that allowed nearly half of the state’s Death Row prisoners to have their death sentences revisited.

With a conservative bloc of justices led by Chief Justice Charles Canady now in the majority, the court has begun the process of reconsidering whether changes to Florida’s death penalty-sentencing system should continue being applied retroactively to cases dating to 2002.

The court’s reopening of the retroactivity issue, which came in an April 24 order, sent shockwaves through the state’s death-penalty legal community.

“This is judicial activism. The right has always complained about judicial activism and not wanting judicial activist judges. But when you don’t respect precedent, that really is the judicial activism,” Marty McClain, a lawyer who has represented hundreds of defendants in death-penalty cases, told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview.” (ocala.com)

So where now? Will those currently in the Re-sentencing program (like David) progress? Will only those not started yet be revisited? Will those already resentenced be resentenced again? We, his friends, feel anxious and helpless. Imagine what he must feel.

And yeah, I can hear people saying “so what?” Or “they deserve it”. But – sometimes against our experience, we still believe in due process. In treating people fairly and transparently. And consistently. Are we naive? You tell us.

Post 6: It’s all about POLITICS!

Like with everything, politics is very much a part of the death penalty, and most importantly, how it is applied.

In my case, the State Attorney spoke out against the death penalty. The attorney had a change of heart regarding the death penalty, citing how broken the death penalty system was, the flaws that could lead to an innocent person being executed, and the financial burden of the death penalty. However, speaking out against the death penalty is basically career suicide in the State of Florida. The Governor quickly intervened and had her removed from any death penalty qualified case. The issue went before the courts, and they sided with the Governor – who in turn, handpicked a State Attorney from outside of the District, who of course is pro death penalty to take over the cases.

To keep it simple, the judge hired a hitman to do what someone else refused to do. That’s the easiest way to explain it.

It will probably be a while before someone else dares to speak out against the death penalty again in this State. So this is what I’m up against for my pending re-sentencing hearing.

The truth about the system…

It’s been two years since my sentence was overturned, but before then I was going through the appeal process. It was during this time that I started to realise the significant part that politics plays in the death penalty, and how disproportionate things are. You also learn that the judicial system treats you significantly differently, if you’re wealthy.

In my case, where I can’t afford legal representation. I’ve had to make do with attorneys that are often overworked, underpaid and have a lack of adequate means to present a proper defense. Some are even lacking in experience required for death penalty cases.

Note: my last attorney was removed from my case when it was revealed that he wasn’t actually qualified to be on a death penalty case. It took a year from that to come to light, actually 19 months!

The only thing that the public knows is that we’re given legal representatives, they’re not being told that a lot of these lawyers are incompetent and how much of a waste financially, the death penalty system actually is.

One Love

David

Post 5: Reflections

In this latest post, David reflects on the past 20 years…

Lately I’ve been thinking about a milestone that’s quickly approaching. I was 20 years old when I caught the case, and I’ll be 40 years old next year. That’s half of my life on the other side.

I’m having mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, I’m thankful to have had those 20 years and some may say “what’s 20 years in a whole life?”, on the other hand, some people may say that it’s 20 years that I didn’t deserve. Of course, we won’t always agree but I do respect all opinions.

As I reflect on the years passed, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. The reality is, I can’t say that I won’t ever do wrong again, but everyday the goal is to strive to do better, and to be better. Hopefully, I’ve made some progress in those 20 years, more than someone who is just existing.

One Love,

David