Former Flagler sheriff weighs in on Ayala, death penalty decision

Filed under FLGR-PALMCOAST

“If you are not inspired to get on that bus on Thursday, I’d like to know why?” asked Linda Sharpe Matthews.

The Flagler NAACP branch president reached out to the audience, paralleling the “March on Tallahassee” on March 30 concerning Orlando County State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s decision not to seek the death penalty and the presentation made minutes earlier of abolishing the movement on the death penalty.

Former Flagler County Sheriff James Manfre has not been silent. He’s involved as a national speaker for a group of retired law enforcement officers, which recently he explained to the NAACP members.

His focus is to travel nationally for LEAP (Law Enforcement Action Project), addressing the different topics of how to rehabilitate the criminal justice system.

Manfre was an initial supporter of the death penalty.

Citing the studies
He chronicled his past to where he began in 1981 as an attorney in the Bronx D.A.’s office.

New York City had 2,300 homicides, “and I saw a lot of carnage, and the culture was to be punitive to the things that you saw,” he said. “But, I am determined over my career – and the statistics back it up – that the death penalty is an ineffective way of being of function.”

Manfre noted the four regions of the country, and that 80 percent of the executions occur in the South. The South has the highest murder rates than the other regions.

“In all the studies that have ever been done, when states or countries – for that matter – give up the death penalty, the crime rates go down.”

The death penalty is a harrowing experience for various reasons:
“Justice delayed is justice denied. Right?” he asked. “You hear that all the time.”

Why it’s unfair
Manfre has personally been with victims who have gone through the process.

He says, “There is nothing worse for a family than to wait 10 or 15 or more years for the ultimate verdict. It provides no closure, and the death penalty…is incredibly expensive to take place.”

“It is unfair simply because it is implemented against minorities to a greater extent than the White population. In Florida right now, 40 percent of the people on Death Row are minorities. Minorities only account for probably 20 percent of our population,” he observed. “So there is some unfairness in the system.”

What’s also unfair is that the criminal justice system sometimes gets it wrong. And so, Manfre embarked on saying, “Juries get it wrong; law enforcement gets it wrong; and prosecutors get it wrong.

“To put someone to death that has the possibility of being innocent just seems to be an unfair process when there is an alternative, that works better for the system,” he said.

Support for Ayala
Aware of his personal, religious opinion, he called attention that Christians are taught to turn the other cheek.

“I don’t understand a culture that is so strong about the unborn –  and I agree with that – but equally is not about prolife for human beings.”

Regarding the efforts to support Ayala’s decision, Manfre said, “I think what the governor is doing here is really illegal …In the terms of a prosecutor, the prosecutor has the ultimate authority in that district to determine which cases should go forward, and what penalties should be sought.

“To have a governor who is able to reach down and say, ‘I don’t like how you used discretion,’ seems to be a poor way of using your authority…She was elected by the public. She reflects that particular community’s values…” he continued.

‘Taste of Broadway’ returns this month
Join Director Emma Adams, Assistant Director Adrienne Felton, the cast and crew for “A Taste of Broadway 2017.”

The cast is planning to take you for a stroll down Broadway to enjoy the dazzling lights, singing and dancing, and the costume designs.

They promise you a collage of musical favorites: “Ain’t Misbehavin,” “Godspell,” “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” “Chicago,” “The King and I,” among others.

The audience will be welcomed April 29, 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., at the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center, 399 North U.S. 1, Ormond Beach.

It’s a Just 4 U Production with the proceeds from the donations and tickets to support theatrical workshops and scholarships.

The ticket price is $20 per person. Group rates are available.

So get on board and call the box office for tickets at 386-676-3375.

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As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted, the prodigal son, or daughter, and the bereaved.

Celebrations
Birthday wishes to Stephanie Robinson, Delcena Samuels, April 7; Eugene Price, April 8; Julius Hicks, Joan Robinson, and Carla Price, April 11.

Happy anniversary to Robert and Lynne Williams, April 7.

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