January 12, 2016
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops has long identified the need to address Florida’s flawed death sentencing scheme despite our position that life imprisonment without parole is an alternative that keeps society safe and renders the death penalty unnecessary.
This being the first day of the 2016 legislative session, we are pleased this decision was issued so promptly. This should compel the legislature to address the issue immediately.
Hurst, the Supreme Court found that Florida violates the Constitution which requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a death sentence. Florida currently requires unanimous verdicts in every case in which juries are summoned, with the exception of sentencing someone to death. We urge the Florida legislature to respond to this decision by passing legislation which requires juries, as a collective body and conscience of the community, to be unanimous in the finding of aggravating circumstances and in recommending death over life imprisonment.
Michael B. Sheedy