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Jeb Bush Weakens Death Penalty Representation System

Jeb Bush and Republican legislators in Florida are closing the state offices that provide legal counsel to those facing the death penalty. We wrote about this at length, here.

The St. Petersburg Times takes Bush and cronies to task today for their misguided action in The Wrong Counsel:

In one of the most short-sighted and callous moves yet in this year's budget process, Gov. Jeb Bush and Republican leaders in the House have begun to dismantle the state offices that provide legal representation to death-row inmates. In his budget proposal, Bush recommended defunding the three Capital Collateral Regional Counsel offices and replacing them with attorneys in private practice willing to take these complicated post-conviction death penalty cases - a move that, in most cases, would guarantee prisoners less qualified, less experienced and less commited counsel.

...This is a done deal, but it is a bad one for Florida. The CCRC is without question the most effective way to provide competent representation to indigent prisoners on death row. Eliminating even part of this program will further weaken Florida's commitment to fairness in its criminal justice system.

....Florida leads the nation in the number of death sentences set aside due to constitutional errors - mistakes that include convicting the innocent. It takes the dogged work of experienced counsel to uncover these errors and set things right. But Bush and House Speaker Johnnie Byrd apparently aren't interested in getting things right. Their interest is in having executions come fast and cheap.

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