New legislation could lower the death penalty threshold
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A Florida house panel is supporting lowering the threshold to sentence someone to death.
The bill would eliminate a requirement for unanimous jury recommendations before death sentences can be imposed.
Judges would then be able to sentence someone to death based on the recommendations of eight out of 12 jurors.
The issue has reemerged after parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz was sentenced to life in prison because the jury was not unanimous.
State Rep. Berny Jacques said “this law will correct a wrong in our statutes, a statute that was based on a flawed supreme court ruling that was overturned three years ago.”
Opponents of the bill point out the death row inmates in Florida who have been exonerated.
State Rep. Daryl Campbell said “there are flaws in our system. For us to go from a unanimous decision to an eight to four decision on the death penalty, I think is egregious.”
The proposal would affect only the sentencing process and not what is known as the guilt phase of murder cases. Juries would still have to be unanimous in finding defendants guilty before sentencing could begin.
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