EDITORIAL: The ultimate oxymoron -- living on death row - The Northwest Florida Daily News

EDITORIAL: The ultimate oxymoron — living on death row – The Northwest Florida Daily News

No matter where you stand on the issue of the death penalty, many Americans would agree that the process is deeply flawed.

By the time someone actually faces execution in Florida, they have often been living on death row — an oxymoron if there was one — for at least 10 years and frequently much longer.

Eric Scott Branch was convicted more than 20 years ago for the murder of a University of West Florida student. Word came down last week that the Feb. 22 execution will proceed as planned. In other words, Branch will have outlived his victim by nearly 25 years. During those years, he, or she, has been a guest of the Florida Department of Corrections, with state-funded food, housing and medical care.

No one wants an innocent person put to death and it’s in everyone’s best interest to have an effective appeals process in place. But if death by execution seems inhumane to some, so too might living for 25 years with a death sentence hanging over your head. And the slow appeals process may not be as foolproof as we’d like it to be. The group Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty keeps a record of death row inmates exonerated over the years. Their tally presently stands at 27, dating back to 1973.

Ours is an imperfect system at best, one that likely at least occasionally kills an innocent man and also allows guilty individuals to effectively sidestep their sentences.

Nonetheless, the beat goes on.

Branch’s appeal was one of 10 from Death Row inmates the Florida Supreme Court turned down Monday. Justices rejected another 10 appeals the next day.

Three other inmates who committed local crimes also had their death sentence appeals denied Monday, including Ernest D. Suggs in a Walton County case, Frank A. Walls in an Okaloosa County case, and Daniel

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