Florida Senate passes death penalty reform bill

Florida took an enormous step to repair its dying penalty regulation Thursday when the Senate handed a invoice to require a unanimous jury determination earlier than the demise penalty is imposed.

The proposal — the second try in two years to deal with courtroom selections that discovered the state’s capital punishment regulation unconstitutional — is predicted to go to Gov. Rick Scott on Friday after the Home votes on it. 

It is a repair that folks on each side of the dying penalty difficulty see as wanted, however few on both aspect are completely proud of. Many demise penalty proponents have been OK with a majority jury vote figuring out a demise sentence and are annoyed the courts pressured them to maneuver to a unanimous determination. Opponents would like to abolish the follow altogether.

“I nonetheless assume there’s work to be executed on the dying penalty,” stated Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy of Orlando, the invoice’s sponsor. “One among them is that the dying penalty has been erratically utilized. Relying on the place you’re on this state — (and) typically sadly, the colour of your pores and skin — it could actually decide whether or not you get the demise penalty or not.'”

However he referred to as the measure a great first step.

Coincidentally, the Senate vote got here the identical day the Florida Supreme Courtroom stated the execution of condemned homicide Michael Lambrix can go ahead. Lambrix was scheduled to be executed in February 2016 for a 1983 double homicide in southwest Florida, however the state Supreme Courtroom delayed the execution based mostly on a U.S. Supreme Courtroom determination that discovered the state’s demise penalty regulation unconstitutional.

The U.S. excessive courtroom’s January 2016 ruling was based mostly on a case the place a decide issued a dying sentence after a 7-5 jury suggestion. The courtroom stated Florida gave an excessive amount of energy to judges to determine dying instances. The Legislature responded by overhauling the regulation final yr to permit the dying penalty with no less than a ten-2 jury vote.

In October, nevertheless, the state Supreme Courtroom voted 5-2 to strike down the brand new regulation and require unanimous jury selections for capital punishment.

Whereas many Republicans disagree with the choice, they are saying their arms are tied by it.

“It is simply having to simply accept the truth of the circumstances,” stated Republican Rep. Chris Sprowls of Seminole, who’s sponsoring the measure within the Home. “The place we’re at the moment is we both have a dying penalty, or we do not.”

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