UF Law Professor Kenneth B. Nunn is available to comment on the decision by Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s decision not to pursue the death penalty for cases in her jurisdiction.
Gov. Rick Scott removed Aramis this week as the prosecutor from the case of Markeith Loyd, who is accused of killing a police officer, after Aramis announced she would not seek the death penalty in the case.
Professor Nunn teaches criminal law and procedure at UF Law and issued the following statement:
“I commend the courageous decision by 9th Judicial Circuit Prosecutor Aramis Ayala to refuse to seek the death penalty in cases originated by her office. Only a few prosecutors continue to seek the death penalty, less than 1 percent nationwide. This is because the death penalty is expensive, it is racially discriminatory, and it is impossible to correct should a wrongfully convicted person be put to death. The death penalty in Florida is a mess. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Florida’s death penalty law was unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court recently found that hundreds of death row inmates would have to be resentenced. The state legislature has yet to come up with a process for doing so, and the death penalty is on hold statewide.
“Death sentences in Florida are already in a steep decline. Florida death sentences declined from 45 in 1991 to just 10 in 2015. More wrongfully convicted persons, 26, have been freed from Florida’s death row than have been freed from any other state. And blacks represent 40 percent of the persons on death row in Florida, a percentage that’s almost three times the percentage of the state population that is black. Most importantly, there is little evidence to suggest that the death penalty deters crime or keeps citizens any safer than a life in prison sentence would.
“In light of these realities, State Attorney Ayala’s decision to decline to use this failing method of punishment is sound, reasoned and responsible.”