In response to a ruling from the Supreme Court at the beginning of 2016, around 100 death row inmates in Florida will now be able to receive new hearings to determine whether or not they will remain on death row.
In January of 2016, the SCOTUS ruled that Florida’s current death penalty process is unconstitutional because in many cases, a judge handed down the penalty, rather than a jury. The decision declared that giving the death penalty could only be carried out by a unanimous jury, not a single judge.
Because in 2002, the SCOTUS ruled on a similar case which required the death penalty to be handed down by a jury, all Florida cases decided by a judge after this ruling are being considered invalid.
Due to the death penalty process’s long wait-time there are nearly 100 death row inmates in Florida whose penalties are now considered invalid and are up for retrial. Depending on these new trials, many who were headed for certain death may find a lighter sentence and even freedom. Many others will likely retain their death penalty status.
Florida’s troubles with the death penalty doesn’t end there. In October of last year, amid a rush to correct the state’s failure in the system, Florida was rebuked again, this time for handing out a death sentence from a non-unanimous jury.
Despite having the laws made clear again and again, Florida is failing those in the justice system. The wait for these 100 inmates facing the death penalty will be long, but it is their right to have a fair trial – not whatever jerry-rigged kangaroo court that Florida invented.