If you spend any time reading the news, you're bound to come across a headline or two that starts with "Florida Man..." Yes, Florida is home to some of the kookiest criminals like the guy who tried to give an alligator beer to entice it to bite him or the one who was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend with a piece of fried chicken.
When a death row inmate is executed, there is an expectation and legal requirement that the individual has a rational understanding that he or she is about to be executed and why he or she is facing execution. Most inmates remember their crime, and they are able to answer in the affirmative that they understand the reason for their punishment. However, one Alabama man is proving to be an exception to this understanding. Now, his lawyers argue that because he suffers from dementia, and does not remember his crime over 30 years ago, that he is unfit for execution. The U.S. Supreme Court must now decide if Vernon Madison will die by lethal injection.
A Florida Keys woman was arrested recently, charged with first-degree racketeering. According to prosecutors out of Atlantic City, NJ, she is connected with the 2012 murder of a woman whose doctor-husband was at the center of a pill mill scheme in that state. The Summerland Key resident, Beverly Augello's arrest papers mentioned, "illegal distribution of narcotics and murder." However, she was not the only one involved in the conspiracy, racketeering, and murder plots that unfolded several years ago in New Jersey.
Twelve Miami-Dade County jurors recently deliberated on whether a man should be sentenced to life in prison or receive the death penalty for his crimes. The reason that this case is historic is that it is the first time in Miami that a death-penalty case went to a sentencing hearing since the state of Florida changed the rules all together for awarding the death penalty to certain criminals. In this particular case, instead of send this convicted killer to Death Row, the jury chose mercy through a sentence of life in prison.
Florida's legacy of harsh criminal sentencing is under the microscope lately as the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee concluded recently that too much state taxpayer money is being spent on people who have committed minor criminal offenses. The committee voted unanimously for SB 290, which ends minimum mandatory sentences for non-violent crimes. Liberal and conservative advocates have been pushing to reform Florida's historically harsh mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes for some time now, as these types of statutes have bogged down the judicial system and crowded prisons around the state.