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First Coast Connect

01/19/16: Florida Death Penalty; Generation WORKS; Keep Jax Safe; Circus Elephants; Stacey Goldring

A raft of death penalty cases across the state of Florida are in limbo after a ruling last week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court struck down Florida’s death penalty sentencing system, declaring that it violates defendants’ Sixth Amendment Rights to trial by jury. This means delays for the outcome of many cases, including several here in our area.

About 400 people currently sit on Florida’s Death Row, including the man charged with murdering Jacksonville resident Shelby Farah. Two years ago, defendant James Xavier Rhodes offered to plead guilty to the murder in exchange for life in prison without possibility of parole. Shelby’s mother, Darlene Farah, has urged the State Attorney’s Office to take the plea. However, State Attorney Angela Corey still intends to pursue the death penalty for Rhodes.

We discuss the latest in the case with Darlene Farah, and attorney and former prosecutor Dale Carson, co-counsel on the civil suit for the Farah family.

We also look at how the Supreme Court ruling affects the Florida death penalty as a whole with Ben Jones, campaign strategist for the criminal justice reform organization Equal Justice USA.

The second annual Generation W "Generation WORKS" event is coming up on February 6. Generation W founder Donna Orender joins us with on this day of community service led by women and girls.

We speak with Eddie Farah of the Farah & Farah personal injury law firm about their "Keep Jax Safe" initiative.

Ringling Brothers says it’s responding to years of animal rights protests by phasing out elephant performers from the circus. As the show comes to Jacksonville this week, we speak with Adam Sugalski of the local nonprofit OneProtest and the Circus Protest campaign about his thoughts on the announcement.

And in this month's edition of the First Coast Connect Book Club, book blogger Stacey Goldring joins us to discuss Daniel James Brown's "The Boys in the Boat," chronicling the University of Washington rowing team's participation in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Subscribe to the First Coast Connect podcast in iTunes.

Sean Birch joined the WJCT team in late 2011 and was with the company until 2016.