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Florida's Youngest Inmate on Death Row

In August, Michael Bargo was convicted of first-degree murder in the brutal killing of Seath Jackson in 2011. Today, he was sentenced to death. At just 21 years of age, he is now the youngest inmate on death row in Florida. Although four other people were charged and convicted for the death of Jackson, Bargo was the only one sentenced to death. A jury found that Bargo was the ring leader of this plot. He lured the victim into a home where he was ambushed, beaten, shot, dismembered and then burned.

About the Death Penalty in Florida

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), there are four crimes that could warrant the death penalty in the state of Florida. Those are:

  • First degree murder
  • Felony murder
  • Capital drug trafficking
  • Capital sexual battery

Prior to 1964, people could be convicted and sentenced to death in one fell swoop. In a case known as Furman v. Georgia, it was decided that this was unconstitutional. This is why when individuals are convicted of an offense that could warrant the death penalty, they must undergo a separate penalty phase of the criminal process for sentencing. This is why Michael Bargo was convicted in August but not sentenced until this week.

The state of Florida was one of the last states to hang onto the electric chair as the means of execution for death penalty inmates. Now, although the electric chair is an option, lethal injection is the method used in virtually all death penalty executions.

Currently, there is some controversy regarding the death penalty and mentally disabled individuals. If someone has a mental disability, should they be eligible for the death penalty? What qualifies as a mental disability? And how would courts decide whether that mental disability contributed to the commission of the crime in question? These are all questions being visited by the Supreme Court. At present, if someone has an IQ of at least 70, they can receive the death penalty in Florida.

As of 2010, there were 3,158 inmates in the United States on death row. Florida statistics indicate that there are 403 inmates on death row as of November 2013. Individuals awaiting execution on death row can be pardoned by the Governor of Florida. This is called "commuting" the death penalty. Although it is possible, it is rare. Since 1979, only six inmates on death row have had their penalties commuted in Florida.

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