On Wednesday, Florida had scheduled the execution of 65-year-old Robert
Waterhouse, who was convicted in 1980 of murdering Deborah Kammerer of St.
She'd been beaten, raped, and dragged into Tampa Bay.
It took more than 30 years for Robert Waterhouse to even have a date with
death, sitting on death row as taxpayers spent millions on appeals, hearings,
It's just one reason why Mark Elliott, executive director of Floridians for
Alternatives to the Death Penalty, believes life without parole is a better,
less expensive alternative.
He says it's a policy that would save Florida an estimated $51 million per year
to spend on victim services programs and resources to solve some of Florida's
12,000 homicide cold cases.
"Those families have gotten no justice," said Elliott. "Those killers have
literally gotten away with murder."
He also points out that Florida leads the nation in the number of death row
inmates mistakenly convicted.
"In Florida, we've had more than 23 people exonerated off our death row," he
The financial numbers vary from state to state. Research shows in Virginia and
Delaware, for example, the process is faster and the death penalty actually
costs less on average.
But in most states, including Florida, where the time between sentencing and
execution is an average 13 years, death costs more.
However, the financial debate is tainted by emotion. Just last week, Cindy
Roberts, wife of slain Tampa Police Officer Mike Roberts, made that clear at
the sentencing for Humberto Delgado. "Killing a cop should be an automatic
death penalty," said Roberts, who told reporters she and her husband had
discussed the issue before his murder.
Still, the question of whether executions are a deterrent, whether they can
prevent such crimes, is also debatable. Even police chief Jane Castor sadly
expressed doubt after Delgado was sentenced to death.
"I hope that it would send a message, but I'm not sure that individuals that
would commit this type of a crime are open to that kind of a message," said
There are currently more than 270 people on Florida's death row.
(source: WTSP News)