Tallahassee, FL—Tampa Bay Times journalist, Jeremy Wallace, wrote an article titled, ‘Governor and Cabinet cut prison sentences for two in rare clemency action,’ that was published on June 24, 2015. In the article, Mr. Wallace tells us that Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet agreed to reduce sentences for two men in prison. One of the men, Ryan Holle, was sentenced to life for a grisly murder of an 18-year-old girl in 2003; and the other man, Doug Garrity, was sentenced to ten years in prison for the DUI manslaughter of his friend in 2009.
The article quotes Governor Rick Scott, “Clemency is an opportunity to temper justice with mercy.” And another quote by Governor Rick Scott, “I believe that the purpose of commutations is to undo such obviously inequitable results—because Ryan Holle’s responsibility for Jessica’s death is clearly less than Miller’s, I believe his sentence should likewise be less.”
As the governor of Florida, Rick Scott plays a key role on the clemency board. Does Governor Scott believe that White men are the only men in Florida’s prisons who have received “obviously inequitable results” or who have contributed “clearly less than” others during the commission of a crime that resulted in murder? In Mr. Holle and Mr. Garrity’s cases, they were adults when they made bad decisions. Today there are Black male teenagers who are growing up in prison—not because they are guilty of having committed the crimes in that they were convicted—but because they were deliberately denied the right to due process by some of those who play key roles in Florida’s Judicial System.
(Note: This particular article is not a personal attack against Mr. Ryan Holle or Mr. Doug Garrity.)
On June 24, 2015, Governor Rick Scott stated and acted on his beliefs in both Mr. Holle and Mr. Garrity’s cases. And now that Governor Rick Scott has acted on what he “believes” in regards to “such obviously inequitable results”, Governor Rick Scott should act swiftly to use what he “believes” to rewrite the current laws—to change the same laws and sentencing guidelines that the judges used to sentence Mr. Holle and Mr. Garrity. What Governor Rick Scott “believes” should widely benefit other inmates in Florida’s prisons. Governor Rick Scott said, “Clemency is an opportunity to temper justice with mercy.” Does Governor Rick Scott know that clemency was designed to reduce punishment and prevent miscarriages of justice? Does Governor Rick Scott know how many inmates in Florida’s prisons have endured miscarriages of justice? Do Governor Rick Scott care to know how many prison inmates appeals per year have been handled in one way or the other by Attorney General Pam Bondi Office? Does Governor Rick Scott even care about Florida’s Judicial System?
Without a doubt, Black males are not the only males to have endured miscarriages of justice. Florida has a record number of inmate mortality. There have been so many inmates that have died in Florida’s prisons that some people refer to Florida’s prisons as “Death Camps.” So while Black and Brown male prison inmates are being tortured and/or murdered by corrections officers as they sit idle in Florida’s prisons waiting for their appeal to be processed, White male Florida prison inmates are being candidly granted clemency—mercy.
Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi’s inaction for Black male prison inmates are signs that Florida’s Criminal Justice System is not interested in moving into the 21st Century Criminal Justice System Reform. May God have mercy on their souls!