Study: Duval has 8th highest number of death row inmates | News

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Study: Duval has 8th highest number of death row inmates

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Lead Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda clearly remembers the last person put to death on his watch.

"The defendant's name is Justin McMillan. He killed an innocent lady," de la Rionda said.

On the day of McMillan's execution, his victim's family sent de la Rionda purple flowers, her favorite color.

"The judge imposed the death penalty. That was October 1st, that was her birthday," de la Rionda said.

New information released by found McMillian was one of 60 death row inmates in Duval County, making it the 8th highest number of death row inmates in the country.

De la Rionda said the decision to seek the death penalty is different in each case, but most times, it's with the support of the victim's family.

"A lot of people who have been through what these people have been through say they want the death penalty, they want these people to be held accountable," he said.

But thousands of people protest executions each year, vehemently opposed to the death penalty. is an anti-death penalty site, and the conclusions in the study support that.

It found 2 percent of the counties in the country are responsible for the broad majority of death row cases, and a disproportionate number of those inmates are African-American.

But de la Rionda argues the people executed from Duval County reflect the victims of the crime.

"A lot of our victims, if not the majority, happen to be African American. So are we going to say their lives are not as valuable as a white person's life?"

De la Rionda said the study is misleading, but agrees that Duval County aggressively seeks the death penalty when the punishment fits the crime.

He said the fact that people disagree with it won't change the way they do business.

"There are always going to be people against the death penalty, there will always be people for it. But the bottom line is, it's the law. And we need to follow the law," he said.


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