Florida makes changes to death-penalty system
DORAL, FL – On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill removing a requirement for unanimous jury recommendations before judges can impose death sentences, a major change in the state’s death-penalty system.
“Once a defendant in a capital case is found guilty by an unanimous jury, one juror should not be able to veto a capital sentence,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement Thursday. “I’m proud to sign legislation that will prevent families from having to endure what the Parkland families have and ensure proper justice will be served in the state of Florida.”
The law passes after Nikolas Cruz was sentenced to life in prison last year for the 2018 shooting deaths of 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He was not given the death penalty as a result of a jury not unanimously recommending death.
Now, the death-penalty system will impose sentences based on the recommendations of eight out of 12 jurors. In the event that a judge decides to make life in prison sentences after receiving jury recommendations of death, he or she must explain in written orders their reasons for not following the death sentence recommendations.
The Senate voted 29-10 on March 30 to approve the bill and the House followed the same path by passing it in an 80-30 vote.
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