More frequent executions

Originally published July 3, 2008
Schwab’s legacy may be more frequent executions
By Paul Flemming
Mark Dean Schwab’s execution, Florida’s first in more than 18 months, is the start of more lethal injections for the 386 prisoners on the state’s death row.

Gov. Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum both say that favorable court rulings in the Schwab case — and that his lethal injection went off without incident — mean more frequent executions. Both Crist and McCollum said more timely executions represent greater justice for victims.

Since 2004, 62 prisoners were added to death row. In that same time, the state has carried out eight executions. In part, that’s because of an 18-month hiatus when the state’s lethal-injection methods were studied, changed and vetted by the courts, a gap that ended with Schwab’s execution.

“It would be realistic to assume the pace will pick up and Florida will be conducting executions more frequently, as it should be,” said state Sen. Victor Crist, a Tampa Republican and an architect of the state’s system for representing death-penalty defendants and a part of legislative efforts to set execution methods.

A spokeswoman for McCollum said state and federal court decisions in Schwab’s case mean the state is on firm legal ground to initiate further executions with the lethal-injection procedures now in place.

Now, Victor Crist said, it depends on the governor.

“We could do one a month if he wanted to,” Victor Crist said.

Another lawmaker on the state’s Commission on Capital Cases said it’s more likely Florida will have regular executions without a rush of them.

“I think you will still see a slow march toward the death penalty,” said state Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Greenacres Democrat. “I don’t think you’re going to see a run on the death penalty, I think you will see it used but used judiciously. The Schwab case was evidence of that. This was a case that deserved capital punishment.”