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Death Penalty Sentencing Fix Ready For Full Senate Vote

Hello World Media
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday approved a bill (SB 280) that would require unanimous jury recommendations before defendants could be sentenced to death, setting the stage for the full Senate to act quickly on the issue next month.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in October that a law requiring only 10 of 12 jurors to recommend death was unconstitutional. As a result, the Senate and House are moving toward requiring unanimous jury recommendations.

Lawmakers are expected to pass the change shortly after the annual legislative session starts March 7.

"I think it is time now that (if) we send someone to death, if we are to do that, that all of one's peers need to agree," says bill sponsor Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando. "So for the sake of our justice system, and for the sake of fairness, I think that unanimity should be required to send someone to death."

The state's death penalty has been on hold since January 2016 because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and state Supreme Court decisions.