October 17, 2016
Part II of a study by the Harvard Law School Fair Punishment Project was released October 12, 2016. Entitled
Too Broken to Fix: An In-depth Look at America’s Outlier Death Penalty Counties, the study identified 16 of 3143 counties or county equivalents across the nation that handed down five or more death sentences from 2010-2015. Four of these “outlier” counties are in the state of Florida. Part II of the study scrutinized court records of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Miami-Dade counties.
The study reports the inherent flaws in the death penalty system and the disproportionate impact of the death penalty on minority populations and the mentally ill. The impact of these chronic issues includes convicting innocent people.
"In Hillsborough County, we have seen three people wrongfully sentenced to death and later exonerated,” said Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg in response to Part II of the study. “The death penalty clearly is prone to error and, moreover, unnecessary today where there are alternative means to protect society. It is imperative that our officials promote a culture of life and stop pursuing the death penalty."
On Monday, October 17, 2016, local faith leaders urged the cessation of death penalty prosecutions at a press conference, facilitated by Equal Justice USA, in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse.
In August, Bishop Felipe Estévez of the Diocese of St. Augustine responded to Part I of the Fair Punishment Project study, which identified Duval County, Florida as a death penalty outlier.