Florida now has the lowest threshold in the country for sentencing people to death, thanks to a law signed Thursday by governor Ron DeSantis.
Under the bill, eight of 12 jurors can seal a death sentence. Most states require an unanimous decision.
Mr. DeSantis began pushing for such a provision after the gunman in the 2018 Parkland school shooting avoided the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison in 2022.
“We can’t be in a situation where one person can just derail this,” he said earlier this year at a meeting of the Florida Sheriff’s Association.
Some Parkland families also contested the verdict.
“Jail is about rehabbing someone. There is no rehabbing [Nikolas Cruz],” Ilan Alhadeff, father of other student Alyssa Alhadeff, told reporters after the 12-person jury reached its decision.
“I pray that animal suffers every day of his life in jail. And it should be a short life,” he continued.
Florida, which allowed a simple majority vote to pass a death sentence until a 2016 ruling by the state supreme court, has the most death row exonerations of any state, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
There are currently over 300 people on death row in the state.
“It should be hard to send someone to the death penalty,” Randolph Bracy, a former state senator from Orlando who sponsored legislation in 2017 to require unanimous death sentences, told The New York Times. “Florida has the highest rate of wrongful convictions, I think, in the country,” he added. “We needed that threshold to make sure we were doing the right thing.”
US The Independents it has been reported, the families of those impacted by terrorism and mass shootings are divided on the death penalty.
“In my heart, as my mother’s child, I wanted him to be dead like her,” Reverend Sharon Risher, whose mother and cousins were killed in 2015 in a white supremacist church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, told The Independent. “Going back to my Christian faith, I knew that I didn’t want that. I realized that even though he had done this horrific thing, my faith tells me that God is a God of restoration and redemption.”
In Washington, meanwhile, the governor signed a bill on Friday officially striking the death penalty from state law, a punishment previously deemed unconstitutional in 2018 in the state supreme court.
“To the extent that race distinguishes the cases, it is clearly impermissible and unconstitutional,” Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst wrote in the lead opinion at the time, noting an analysis that showed juries were four times more likely to sentence Black people to capital punishment.The Independent and the non-profit Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ) have launched a joint campaign calling for an end to the death penalty in the US. The RBIJ has attracted more than 150 well-known signatories to their Business Leaders Declaration Against the Death Penalty – with The Independent as the latest on the list. We join high-profile executives like Ariana Huffington, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson as part of this initiative and are making a pledge to highlight the injustices of the death penalty in our coverage.