It is a tale of two states.
One is modern and internationally connected, linked to the rest of the world through trade and tourism and known for its health, software and space technology industries.
The other is an outlier state stuck in the past, connected to a punishment which in the 21st century sets it apart from much of the world.
Both are the US State of Florida, which just conducted its first judicial killing in a year and a half, even though much of the country has turned against this cruel policy.
‘Bold, positive change’?
Four years ago, Governor Rick Scott promised ‘bold, positive change’ for Florida. However, not when it comes to the death penalty apparently.
In March 2017, State Attorney Aramis Ayala – the first African American to be elected to this position in Florida – decided not to pursue the death penalty because of its clear flaws. In response, Governor Scott ordered her to be replaced with a prosecutor willing to see executions carried out.
Since then the governor has transferred 27 capital murder cases to Ayala’s replacement. Two of these cases have already resulted in juries voting for death sentences.
Ready to kill again
On Thursday 24 August, the Florida execution machine was ready to kill again. The prisoner who was first in line for lethal injection was Mark Asay, sent to death row in 1988.
Alaya and her successor have taken very different stands in Florida. She has acted to drop the death penalty, which is a waste of resources, prone to discrimination, arbitrariness and error, and makes promises to murder victims’ families it cannot keep. But her successor wants to crank up the machinery of death.
We know which side we’re on: ending the death penalty for good is the only approach consistent with international human rights principles. The alternative is not.