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Panel examines dealth penalty

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By Tom Flanigan

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-993732.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – A Tallahassee forum on the death penalty Monday featured legal experts, lawmakers, academics and even a former death row inmate. Tom Flanigan reports the idea was to remove some of the politics and emotions from the issue.

Juan Melendez remembers his seventeen years on Florida's death row. Waiting for his turn as other convicted murderers went to the electric chair.

"I can hear this... That still says in my mind. And I know precisely the time when they fry him because the lights go on and off."

Melendez was exonerated and set free nine years ago. He was among an all-star panel of death penalty experts at the Florida State University College of Law on Monday. Former American Bar Association President Sandy D'Alemberte says something is very wrong.

"In 1997, the American Bar Association after some study said, This system's broke. It's not functioning properly. We need to have a moratorium on the death penalty."

One bill already filed in the Florida Legislature would do just that. Another would keep the death penalty, but require a unanimous jury decision to impose it. Florida is now the only state that needs just a simple jury majority to impose the death sentence.