Electric chair or firing squad? - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Electric chair or firing squad?

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WFLX) - Florida conducted its last hanging in the early 1900s. The electric chair became the law of the state in 1924 and lasted until three botched executions in the 90s forced lawmakers to switch to lethal injection.

Now, Republican State Rep. Brad Drake of Walton County wants to bring back the electric chair and also give inmates a choice of a firing squad. "I am bemused and baffled at the number of people that calibrate their scales of justice in favor of the criminal as opposed to the victim.

Drake's bill would give all 395 current death row inmates a choice between the two methods. Those who don't choose would automatically get the electric chair.

Any change in the way the state carries out executions is likely to keep the Florida Attorney General busy fighting new rounds of appeals.

Mark Schlakman, who handled death cases for Governor Lawton Chiles when the electric chair malfunctioned twice, says the hype over firing squads is a distraction from an otherwise broken system.

"The overriding concern is that the process itself does not insure fair and accurate outcomes, does not insure impartial outcomes," said Schlakman.

Representative Drake, a marketing executive, says he came up with the firing squad idea after complaints about the drugs used in lethal injections.

At least two former Florida Supreme Court justices question the fairness of the state's process. A federal judge has declared unconstitutional Florida's system that allows a mere majority of jurors to choose death. And state and national bar associations have criticized Florida's process for executing people.

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