As is common in the death penalty world, it has been an up and down week.
First, the down: I am saddened that once again the Governor has chosen to set the execution for Louis Gaskin, a man with severe mental illness who was sentenced to death by an 8-4 vote jury vote. It is no coincidence that this is the second person with an 8-4 vote that the Governor has chosen for execution. At the same time, he has called for the Legislature to amend Florida’s Death Penalty law to require only 8 jurors to secure a death sentence – the lowest standard in the country.
Additionally, Mr. Gaskin’s last formal clemency review was in 2014, under a previous Governor, almost a decade ago. Act now and ask Governor DeSantis and the Clemency Board to re-open the clemency process and commute Mr. Gaskin’s sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Now, for the hopeful news: While the House and Senate bills seeking to return Florida to its outlier status allowing non-unanimous death sentences have passed favorably through several committees, some legislators are standing up and voting no. Importantly, when they are debating the issue or explaining the reasons for their no vote, they are echoing all of the concerns and issues we have been raising. This means our voices are being heard. We want those who voted no to know that we see what they are doing and we appreciate their courage to stand up for what is right – please take a moment to thank them here.
Finally, please know that even if you are not in Florida, you can still take our actions. We know that our Governor and other state leaders pay attention to national and international opinions about both their governing ability in general and the death penalty in specific. All of our voices matter.
FADP Executive Director