Democratic lawmakers file bills to eliminate the death penalty

Sen. Gary Farmer and Rep. Joe Geller proposed legislation this week that would strike the death penalty from Florida’s penal code.

The two South Florida Democrats’ proposals would repeal all mentions of capital punishment from state law.

Farmer, the Senate Democratic Leader, filed his bill (SB 568) Tuesday after Geller filed his version (HB 6019) Monday.

However, the Republican-led House and Senate are unlikely to act on those bills. The pair filed similar bills in the 2020 Legislative Session that gained no traction.

The death penalty issue reemerged in Florida during the 2020 Legislative Session after the Florida Supreme Court said it erred in a 2016 decision requiring a unanimous jury decision to sentence a defendant convicted of murder to death. Then-Senate President Bill Galvano said his chamber would not revisit the law, which changed in 2017 to meet the court’s ruling.

Under current law, prosecutors still need a unanimous jury decision to sentence defendants to death.

The court’s decision threw between 100 to 150 cases into legal limbo, experts said. Lawyers and anti-death penalty advocates scrambled to determine what it meant for existing cases in the resentencing phase.

A September report from the Death Penalty Information Center

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