March 13, 2017
During the committee weeks leading up to the 2017 legislative session, Florida lawmakers 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 agreement of only 10 of 12 jurors to recommend death was unconstitutional.
SB 280 (Bracy), which requires that jury recommendations for death sentences be unanimous, was passed by both chambers receiving final passage on Friday, March 9. The measure will now go to Governor Scott for his signature.
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.
The FCCB urges lawmakers to give further deliberation to additional areas of concern as Florida applies the death penalty, such as:
More on the Church's teaching on the death penalty.
- much greater cost than life without parole;
- disproportionate application among the poor and severely mentally ill;
- broad aggravating factors that do not sufficiently narrow defendants eligible for the death penalty;
- lack of deterrent effect;
- Florida's high rate of death row exonerations (26 individuals); and
- effects on victims' families relative to a quicker life without parole resolution.