Former judge questions executions

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) – Floridians for alternatives to the death penalty are circulating a video of a former Florida Supreme Court judge who believes the state has executed innocent people. The retired judge is also wondering about the costs.

Gerald Kogan spent 11 years on the Florida Supreme Court, the last two as chief justice.

“Originally, I believed in the death penalty. I thought it was an appropriate sentence, ”Kogan said in the Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty video.

More than two dozen people were executed while Kogan was in court.

“Our system is not perfect,” Kogan said.

In the recently released video, Kogan, who died earlier this year, questioned what he calls an imperfect system.

“I started to realize that we are executing people who are probably innocent,” Kogan said.

The state does not keep records on the costs of an execution, but in the video, Kogan estimated that each costs $ 5 million from conviction, to appeal, to burial.

Prosecutor Brian Haas said mistakes may have happened in the past, but not anymore. We asked him directly if he thought his office had convinced an innocent person.

“No, I don’t,” Haas said. “It is expensive. It is expensive, but I think the family members of the victims in the cases I deal with absolutely believe it is necessary.

But the Florida Catholic Conference is quick to point out that there have been 30 modern exonerations.

“We don’t know how many more innocent people are on death row today, which is why we support the total abolition of the death penalty,” said Ingrid Delgado of the Conference.

99 people have been executed since the state resumed executions in 1979. The most recent dates back two years. Florida now demands a unanimous jury verdict and allows a judge to overturn a death sentence. Death row prisoners also have an automatic appeal to the State Supreme Court.

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