February 24, 2017
During the committee weeks leading up to the annual legislative session, the Florida House and Senate have acted quickly to address an October 2016 Florida Supreme Court decision that struck down the state's death sentencing scheme. The state's high court ruled that a new 2016 law requiring only 10 of 12 jurors to recommend death was unconstitutional.
SB 280 (Bracy) and HB 527 (Sprowls) require that jury recommendations for death sentences be unanimous. Both bills passed two committees of reference and will head next to the full House and Senate chambers. Lawmakers are likely to pass the unanimous jury requirement early in the annual legislative session, which starts March 7.
The FCCB supports ending the use of the death penalty since the alternative sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole can keep society safe without taking an additional life. However, for many years we have also supported unanimous jury legislation as an incremental improvement in the law as long as the State of Florida maintains its use of the death penalty.
On February 21, Ingrid Delgado, FCCB associate for respect life/social concerns, joined representatives of various faiths at a press conference. She thanked the legislature for addressing unanimous jury legislation while expressing the need for deeper review of additional problems with the death penalty, including cost and disproportionate application. Darlene Farrah (pictured), whose daughter was murdered in 2013, spoke on behalf of murder victims' families who oppose seeking the death penalty in their cases.