TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Senate committee could begin moving forward Monday with a plan to require unanimous jury recommendations before inmates can be sentenced to death.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee is slated to take up a bill (SB 280), filed by Chairman Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando, that would make the long-debated change.
A similar measure (HB 527) has been filed by House Judiciary Chairman Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor.
Florida's death penalty has been on hold for the past year because of rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court, including a ruling on unanimous jury recommendations.
Last January, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's death-penalty sentencing system as unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries.
The ruling effectively left the state without a death-penalty sentencing process.
Florida lawmakers hurriedly rewrote the statute last year, requiring jurors to unanimously find that at least one aggravating factor exists before a defendant can be eligible for a death sentence and requiring at least 10 of 12 jurors to recommend death for the sentence to be imposed.
But the Florida Supreme Court in October ruled that unanimous jury recommendations are needed, leading lawmakers to again grapple with the issue.