• Rick Scott Executes Florida Innocence Commission

    For people who claim skepticism about the efficacy of government, many conservative Republicans are strangely optimistic about the effects legislation can have on the real world.

    Concerned about the effects of climate? North Carolina will put those liberal oceans in their place by requiring scientists to change the way they report sea level projections. Worried about the decaying moral fabric of civilization? Tennessee has the answer with its "don't say gay" initiative. There's almost no issue that can't be solved by aggressively ignoring it.

    One of Florida's problems appears to be the stunning regularity with which innocent people are convicted of capital crimes. Since 1973, 23 death row inmates have been exonerated in the state. Governor Rick Scott has a novel solution: Eliminate the judicially imposed Innocence Commission that has been active since 2009.

    The Commission costs $200,000 to operate, an appropriation that Scott recently vetoed

    It's a puzzling decision from the governor, a favorite among Tea Party activists and limited government advocates. In a state with a $70 billion budget, the commission's funding is minuscule. Even if Scott is unconcerned about his state's history of imprisoning innocent people, his veto could cost Florida taxpayers in the long run. A 2011 study of 85 wrongful convictions in Illinois found that convicting and imprisoning the wrong person cost taxpayers $214 million. The actual perpetrators of those crimes went on to commit dozens of additional felonies, including 14 murders. Assuming the costs are similar in Florida, if the commission prevents just one wrongful conviction, it would fund itself for 12.5 years.

    Sure, this sounds like a potentially expensive proposition, but can you really put a price tag on the moral lightness that comes with not knowing whether the state is putting innocent people to death?

    Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images/Getty Images

    Tags: Capital Punishment, Florida, Judiciary, Rick Scott


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