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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary

Death Row

General Facts

The Supreme Court and 
the death penalty:
The case of Furman vs. Georgia was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 1972. In that case, the Court held that capital punishment was unconstitutional and struck down state death penalty laws nationwide. As a result, the death sentences of 95 men and one woman on Florida's Death Row were commuted to life in prison. However, after the Furman decision, the Florida Legislature revised the death penalty statutes in case the Court reinstated capital punishment in the future. In 1976 the Supreme Court overturned its ruling in Furman and upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty in the case of Gregg vs. Georgia. Executions resumed in Florida in 1979 when John Spenkelink became the first Death Row inmate to be executed under the new statutes.

Means of execution:

In January 2000, the Florida Legislature passed legislation that allows lethal injection as an alternative method of execution in Florida. Florida administers executions by lethal injection or electric chair at the execution chamber located at Florida State Prison. The three-legged electric chair was constructed from oak by Department of Corrections personnel in 1998 and was installed at Florida State Prison (FSP) in Raiford in 1999. The previous chair was made by inmates from oak in 1923 after the Florida Legislature designated electrocution as the official mode of execution. (Prior to that, executions were carried out by counties, usually by hanging.)

Review Lethal Injection Protocol here

 

First executed inmate: Frank Johnson was the first inmate executed in Florida's electric chair on October 7, 1924. In 1929 and from May 1964 to May 1979 there were no executions in Florida.

The executioner: Is a private citizen who is paid $150 per execution. State law allows for his or her identity to remain anonymous.

Witnesses: Special note regarding press witnesses for executions: The Department relies on the Florida Press Association and the Florida Association of Broadcasters to select 10 of the 12 pool reporters who may witness an execution (two places are always reserved for the Associated Press and United Press International-Radio). Print reporters are selected by the Florida Press Association (phone: (850) 222-5790/fax: (850) 222-4498) and TV/radio reporters are selected by the Florida Association of Broadcasters (phone: (850) 681-6444/fax: (850) 222-3957). One reporter from each group must represent a news organization that covers the county in which the condemned inmate committed the crime for which he or she was sentenced to death. Additional information can be found in DC policy  (FAC 33.104.203).


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The Daily Routine of Death Row Inmates

Death Row &
Death Watch cells:
A Death Row cell is 6 x 9 x 9.5 feet high. Florida State Prison also has Death Watch cells to incarcerate inmates awaiting execution after the Governor signs a death warrant for them. A Death Watch cell is 12 x 7 x 8.5 feet high.

Men on Death Row are housed at Florida State Prison in Raiford, FL, and Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, FL. The women on Death Row are housed at Lowell Annex in Lowell, FL.

Meals: Death Row inmates are served meals three times a day: at 5:00 am, from 10:30 am to 11:00 am and from 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm. Food is prepared by prison staff and transported in insulated carts to the cells. Inmates are given sporks with their meals and they eat from the provided tray. Prior to execution, an inmate may request a last meal. To avoid extravagance, the food to prepare the last meal must cost no more than $40 and must be purchased locally.

Visitors: All inmate visitors must be approved before visitation is allowed. Questions regarding an inmate's visiting day(s), visiting hours, and special visits should be directed to the Classification Officer responsible for the inmate at the inmate's assigned facility. Questions may be sent by letter, e-mail or by telephone. Members of the news media may request Death Row inmate interviews through the Department of Corrections Communications Office at (850) 488-0420. The inmate must agree to the interview and the interview will be non-contact.

Showers: The inmates may shower every other day.

Security: Death Row inmates are counted at least once an hour. They are escorted in handcuffs and wear them everywhere except in their cells, the exercise yard and the shower. They are in their cells at all times except for medical reasons, exercise, social or legal visits or media interviews. When a death warrant is signed the inmate is put under Death Watch status and is allowed a legal and social phone call.

Mail,
Magazines &
Entertainment:
Inmates may receive mail every day except holidays and weekends. They may have snacks, radios and 13" televisions in their cells. They do not have cable television or air-conditioning and they are not allowed to be with each other in a common room. They can watch church services on closed circuit television. While on Death Watch, inmates may have radios and televisions positioned outside their cell bars.

Clothing: Death Row inmates can be distinguished from other inmates by their orange t-shirts. Their pants are the same blue colored pants worn by regular inmates.

Statistics

The following statistics have been compiled from data collected since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. For more information on the inmates on Florida's Death Row, go to our Death Row List or our Execution List. These provide specific statistics on each inmate.


Statistics on Executed inmates in Florida*

*Refers to inmates executed after the death penalty was reinstated in Florida, beginning with John Spenkelink’s execution in May 1979.
 46.56 years is the average age at time of execution.
 29.78 years is the average age at offense for executed inmates.

Executions each year since the
reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976
1979 1 1998 4
1980-82 0 1999 1
1983 1 2000 6
1984 8 2001 1
1985 3 2002 3
1986 3 2003 3
1987 1 2004 2
1988 2 2005 1
1989 2 2006 4
1990 4 2007 0
1991 2 2008 2
1992 2 2009 2
1993 3 2010 1
1994 1 2011 2
1995 3 2012 3
1996 2 2013 7
1997 1 2014  
Total    81

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Death Row Notables

 Juveniles: There are no juveniles on Death Row. Death Row inmates younger than 16 at the time of their offense were adjudicated as adults in court proceedings.
 Two oldest Death Row inmates:
John Vining - DOB 3/13/31, sentenced from Orange County in 1990.
Nelson Serrano - DOB 9/15/38, sentenced from Polk County in 2007.

Three youngest Death Row inmates:
Hector Sanchez-Torrez - DOB 4/17/89, sentenced from Clay County in 2011.
David Sparre - DOB 7/7/1991, sentenced from Duval County.
Terrance Phillips - DOB 7/16/1991, sentenced from Duval County.

 Oldest inmate executed:
Charlie Grifford - 72, executed on 2/21/51.
 Youngest inmates executed (both 16 years old):
Willie Clay - sentenced from Duval County, executed 12/29/41.
James Davis - sentenced from Alachua County, executed 10/9/44.
 John Spenkelink was the first inmate to be executed in Florida after reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. He was executed on 5/25/79.
 Inmate who has been on Death Row the longest continuously:
Douglas R. Meeks - received on Death Row 3/21/75; date of offense 10/24/74. Meeks was sentenced from Taylor County. Four others have been on death row longer, but their sentences were vacated and reinstated; they got a new trial; or there was some other change to their sentence so they were not continuously on death row, though all are back now. They are Norman Parker (1967), Freddie Hall (1968), Dean Kilgore (1971) and James Rose (1971).
 On March 30, 1998, Judias "Judy" Buenoano became the first woman to die in Florida's electric chair. For more on Death Row women, click here. For the latest count of inmates on Death Row, please refer to the Death Row List.

These statistics furnished by The Department of Corrections - Communications Office. For more information, call the Communications Office at (850) 488-0420 or send e-mail to publicaffairs@mail.dc.state.fl.us.