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Former Justice questions executions

99 people have been executed since the state resumed executions in 1979.
99 people have been executed since the state resumed executions in 1979.(KY3)
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 3:39 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty are circulating a video of a former Florida Supreme Court Justice who believes the state has executed innocent people. The retired justice also questions the costs.

Gerald Kogan spent 11 years on the Florida Supreme Court, the last two as Chief Justice.

“Originally, I believed in the death penalty. I thought it was a proper penalty,” said Kogan in the Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty video.

More than two dozen people were executed during Kogan’s time on the court.

“Our system is not perfect,” said Kogan.

In the newly released video Kogan, who died earlier this year, questioned what he calls an imperfect system.

“I began realizing that we’re executing people who are probably innocent,” said Kogan.

The State doesn’t keep records about the costs of an execution, but in the video Kogan estimated each one costs $5 million from conviction, to appeal, to burial.

Prosecutor Brian Haas said errors may have occurred in the past, but not any longer. We asked him directly if he thought his office had convinced an innocent person.

“No I don’t,” said Haas. “It is expensive. It is expensive, but I think that the family members of the victims in the cases I’m handling absolutely feel that it’s necessary.”

But the Florida Catholic Conference is quick to point out there have been 30 modern exonerations.

“We don’t know how many more innocents are on death row today, which is why we support ending the death penalty altogether,” said Ingrid Delgado with the Conference.

99 people have been executed since the state resumed executions in 1979. The most recent was two years ago. Florida now requires a unanimous jury verdict and allows a judge to override a death sentence. Those on death row also have an automatic appeal to the state Supreme Court.