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State should keep free service

While many people on death row may be guilty, the ones who are innocent may lose a really good chance to be cleared. Gov. Jeb Bush wants to privatize legal representations for death row inmates, closing offices across the state that offer convicted inmates the chance to be represented for free. The closing of these offices signals that freedoms in Florida are becoming more transient.

Attorney General Charlie Crist, who is known for his tough views on crime, said Thursday, “When you have 15 or more years in some instances (between sentencing and punishment) … that’s unfair to the individuals who were killed and their families.”

While the pain and grief of victims’ families must be taken into account, the killing of innocent people cannot be overlooked. The release last week of a death row inmate who had served 16 years in prison after new evidence proved he was innocent should set off alarms to state officials that capital punishment sentencing is flawed.

To close these offices would be to deny many of the prisoners serving sentences the chance to be acquitted. Closing these offices will save the state an estimated $4 million. This is money that could be used for other programs but must be retained in order to make sure that the people who die for crimes actually committed the crimes.

The system was put in place in 1985. Before then, death row inmates relied on volunteer attorneys. This system proved to be even more ineffective and gave innocent prisoners even less of a chance to be freed.

One thing that most Americans agree on is that the U.S. judicial system is flawed.

To take away a legitimate service, like pro bono attorneys for death row inmates, is a clear sign that Florida has stopped caring about the truth and would much rather kill innocent people.