Death Penalty

About two months ago, Florida's death penalty was eliminated by the U.S. Supreme Court primarily because judges could decide to use the death penalty without the support of a jury. However, thanks to a new bill that has been signed into law, Florida will be able to use the death penalty, though the laws about how it can be handed down have been revamped.

The bill was sent to Governor Rick Scott after four days, and he then signed it into law on March 7.

Death Row Populations

Part of the reason lawmakers were working so quickly to get the changes in place is that Florida has almost 400 people who have been convicted and are waiting on death row. Only one other state in the country has more. With those convictions already in place and sentences handed down, but with no functional death penalty on the books, people were unsure what would happen to these prisoners.

Additionally, the lack of a death penalty was starting to impact active cases. In one murder case, the prosecution wasn't allowed to try for the death penalty on grounds that it didn't exist at the time. Two other executions were meant to be carried out, but stays were issued, delaying the process.

In the past five years, Florida has had at least one execution per year. Only Texas and Oklahoma have done the same. This year, Florida had the first execution on record for 2016.

The Death Penalty Returns

Those who are involved in cases in which the death penalty may be used should keep a close eye on legal proceedings. Though the penalty was gone for a few months, it is back and it appears that prosecutors can request it. However, the Supreme Court could, theoretically, eliminate the death penalty again if it isn't satisfied with the changes that have been made in the law.

Will Convictions Stand?

Even those who are currently on death row may want to revisit their rights to see if their