In 2016, the US Supreme Court in Hurst v. Florida ruled that Florida’s capital sentencing law was unconstitutional. Yet, despite the ruling, Florida still has the second-largest death row in the nation and is fourth in the number of executions since 1976.
A new report released by Amnesty International, which focuses on three groups of death row inmates, shows that youth offenders and those with serious mental and intellectual disabilities are being taken advantage of by Florida’s capital sentencing laws.
Another problem the report reveals is how race influences who gets executed. Since 1976, not a single White person has been executed for killing a Black person. Whereas almost one fifth of the executions in this same time period involved Black defendants convicted of killing White victims.
Amnesty’s opposition to Florida’s death penalty is unconditional and absolute. Amnesty also wants Florida’s judges and juries to be made aware of a defendant’s mental health status and age before imposing the sentence of death.
Mathew Marshall is one such person. He was 24 when he was convicted of murder in 1988. Although the jury unanimously voted to sentence him to life in prison, the judge overruled the decision and sentenced him to death. “The USA must stop resorting to the ultimate cru- el, inhuman and degrading punishment, and join the 142 countries that are abolitionist in law or practice today,” says Erika Guevara Rosas for Amnesty International.