March 4, 2016
On the first day of the 2016 Legislative Session, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that found Florida's system for sentencing a person to death unconstitutional because it allows a judge, not the jury, to decide whether the circumstances of a crime warrant a sentence of death.
HB 7101, which passed the full House (
) last week, addresses the decision and requires at least 10 of 12 jurors agree when recommending death. The Senate took up the measure on Wednesday and debated an amendment to require a unanimous jury recommendation, a provision passed earlier in the Session by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. The effort narrowly failed (
), and the Senate passed the bill with the 10-2 requirement on Thursday (
). The bill was immediately sent to Governor Scott for his signature.
Although the FCCB supports a unanimous jury decision, if Florida is to continue to use the death penalty, a 10-2 jury requirement is an improvement over current law that allows a person to be sentenced to death on a recommendation of only a simple majority of jurors (7 of 12).