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State Lawmakers File Death Penalty Fix

Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor)
Florida House of Representatives
Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor)
Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor)
Credit Florida House of Representatives
Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor)

Florida is on the cusp of joining nearly every other death penalty state in requiring a unanimous jury sentence.

Florida’s capital sentencing process is stalled after the state’s high court rejected provisions allowing executions on the recommendation of only 10 out of 12 jurors.  Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) has filed a measure in the House, and he says the aim is fix a problem without creating new ones.

“The Supreme Court of Florida indicated that they believed based on constitutional law both federally and in the state that it would need to be unanimous,” Sprowls says.  “What the bill does is take a minimalist approach, goes into the current death penalty scheme and changes the 10 to two verdict recommendation to unanimous.”

He explains lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to see the matter settled.

“What they want to see is s working death penalty statute in the state of Florida,” Sprowls says.  “The best way to ensure that, to ensure both the constitutionality and that it works for victims and their families, is to change it from 10-2 to unanimous to comply with the decision so that we know we’ve complied.”

“And therefore,” he goes on, “as we move forward out of session we know that victims and families have the opportunity to utilize the death penalty should it be appropriate.”

Ocoee Democrat Randolph Bracy is carrying a similar bill in the Senate. 

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Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.