Not time yet to end death penalty

Article tools

ISSUE: New Jersey ends capital punishment.

New Jersey officials have permanently suspended the death penalty, and predictably, calls for other states, including Florida, are sure to follow. But not so fast, folks.

Clearly, Florida has had its own issues with capital punishment. Malfunctions in the electric chair resulted in gruesome executions that forced the state to move toward lethal injections. That it took Florida that long to end its use of the barbaric electric chair doesn't inspire confidence.

It didn't help, either, that the lethal injection process had a mishap in late 2006 when needles used for one execution were placed incorrectly, reducing the effectiveness of the lethal cocktail and prolonging the execution. At the time, Gov. Jeb Bush correctly suspended the executions pending an investigation, which ultimately produced safeguards.

Since then, the death penalty has been the focus of state and national court reviews. The Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously in November that the lethal injection process does not violate the state constitution.

Lethal injection procedures are also scheduled to be examined by the U.S. Supreme Court starting next week. Floridians should hope the federal high court comes to the same conclusion.

There are those who have moral qualms about the the death penalty. Others raise additional concerns, including fears it is applied to certain groups more frequently than others, and that there is always the risk of executing someone who is innocent.

But what those concerns really point to is the frequency and conditions under which the death penalty is applied.

Those qualms can be ameliorated by limiting the death penalty's application to instances where the crime is particularly heinous and the body of evidence is overwhelming.

That's why the death penalty ought to remain on the punishment menu. The state and its citizens ought to have the right to institute it in those cases where they deem it is the punishment that best fits the crime.

BOTTOM LINE: Florida should not follow suit, at least for now.

More articles

To subscribe, click here.

Would you recommend this?

Rate it:
No Somewhat Neutral Yes Highly
Chan Lowe editorial cartoons

Chan Lowe editorial cartoons

Chan Lowe is the editorial cartoonist for the Sun-Sentinel.

To see Chan Lowe's animated South Florida Perpetual Calendar cartoons, click one of the links below:

     - July
     - August
     - September
     - October
     - November



Letters to the Editor

Tips for getting your letter published:

• Keep your letter brief.
• Include your name, address and daytime phone number.
• Get to the point. Most letters are edited for clarity and length.
• Choose your words carefully. Letters that contain libelous or slanderous statements will be edited or rejected.
• Do not send us copies of other people's work.
• Do not send your comments as an attachment.
• Do not write again immediately after a letter is published. We won't consider your next letter for 60 days.

More tips and things you should know about letters to the editor
Submit a letter for publication

The Editorial Board

  • Howard Greenberg, Publisher
  • Earl Maucker, Editor
  • Antonio Fins, Op-Ed Page Editor
Meet the rest of the board

Mall security poll

The murders of a mother and daughter at the Town Center mall in Boca Raton has alarmed South Floridians. Do you think malls provide enough security for shoppers while they're in parking lots?