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Florida state lawmaker introduces bill to end death penalty

State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, has filed a bill that would end the death penalty in Florida. In a press release today, Rehwinkel Vasilinda says she introduced the bill due to “growing concerns over the possible execution of wrongfully convicted prisoners and the exorbitant cost to the state.” House Bill 4051 would “delete provisions providing for death penalty for capital felonies.”

According to Rehwinkel Vasilinda’s press release:

“I’m not in the business of dispensing vengeance. As a state representative, I am in the business of making decisions to help keep Floridians safe from crime while spending taxpayer money prudently. HB 4051 will achieve both goals,” said Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda.

Executions are carried out at staggering cost to taxpayers. In its 2000 report, “The High Price of Killing Killers,” the Palm Beach Post found that Florida spent approximately $51 million each year to enforce the death penalty.

The recent protests and national concern over the execution of Troy Davis is emblematic of the lack of trust more and more people are demonstrating in the justice and accuracy of state sponsored executions. That is not good for the respect and dignity for the law.

“One of the underlying questions in the debate about state-sponsored executions is what is the proper role and place of government? The appropriate question for state government is how do we keep people safe from crime in the most cost effective way? When you analyze the numbers, state sponsored execution is not the correct answer,” says Rep. Rehwinkel Vasilinda.

Her statement was released the day before the state of Florida is set to execute a man who was convicted of killing a Coral Gables police officer 33 years ago.

According to The Miami Herald, “Manuel Valle is scheduled to be executed at 4 p.m. Wednesday, more than eight weeks after his original execution date.”

Vasilinda said “it cost at least $51 million a year and over 30 years to arrive at the day of execution for Manuel Valle, who is scheduled to be put to death by what may be Governor Scott’s first signature on a death warrant.”

“With that $51 million we could put 850 law enforcement officers on Florida’s streets, as well as adding more FDLE investigators and equipment to our arsenal against crime,” she said.

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