Death row deaths in Florida rising

Gov. Rick Scott averages highest death row deaths

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - William Van Poyck was executed last week after spending 24 years waiting for his death.

In Tallahassee, each of the governors average about two executions per year during their years in office. But not the latest governor, Rick Scott. He's more than double what Charlie Crist did.

Scott is executing inmates at a higher rate than any governor of Florida since the death penalty was resumed in 1979.

Since taking office two and a half years ago, eight death sentences have been carried out.

The average stay on death row before an execution has been 13 years. The goal of legislation called the Timely Justice Act is to cut the waiting time to 10 years. Its critics call it shameful justice.

"We're not sure why there is such a hurry, certainly at a time when Florida is also the leading state in the number of exonerations," said Sheila Meehan, of Citizens Against the Death Penalty.

The legislation requires reports from the Supreme Court on the status of cases, sets up a provision for a death warrant to be signed if the governor isn't carrying out his duties, and it requires the governor to act quickly after conducting clemency.

"It's potentially dangerous for people who are in their appeals process. The governor's office says that it will not speed up appeals, that people will be allowed their full range of court hearings," said Sheila Hopkins, of Fla. Catholic Conference.

The legislation also reinstates an office of state lawyers to represent death row inmates on appeal.

"The Capital Regional Council are experts in this type of process, and so generally, you get better representation," said former Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero.

Scott is averaging more executions per year than any governors in recent Florida history. Some have found that surprising because Scott told people that he didn't realize signing warrants was part of the job description when he signed up.

Double murder, Marshall Gore, is set to die June 24. If carried out, he will be Rick Scott's ninth execution.

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