Florida executions on hold after court rules death penalty unconstitutional

Florida executions on hold after court rules death penalty unconstitutional
Image: nito/Shutterstock

Executions in Florida and the fate of prisoners on death row will remain on hold after a resounding ruling on Friday from the state’s highest court that the death penalty there is unconstitutional.

Capital punishment has been in limbo in the state since a US supreme courtdecision in January 2016 that Florida’s system was unconstitutional because judges had the final say on the death sentence, whereas that power should be held by juries.

Now Florida’s supreme court has ruled that a fix that lawmakers attempted in the spring is also unconstitutional.

The Florida justices ruled that death sentences cannot be handed down by a jury deciding in the majority, which was the essence of state lawmakers’ spring fix – the jury must agree unanimously.

The legislature’s rewriting of the law in May to allow juries to award the death penalty on the basis of a 10-to-2 decision was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s court.

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