Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Thursday that modifies the requirements for recommending capital punishment in capital felony trials. Previously, juries needed to vote unanimously for the death penalty, but the new legislation permits judges to impose a death sentence even if up to four jurors object.
The bill garnered significant support in Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature. Governor DeSantis, a Republican rumored to be considering a 2024 presidential run, argued that the new law would “ensure proper justice” in future cases.
The push for the bill’s passage gained momentum following the trial of Nikolas Cruz, who was convicted for the 2018 Parkland school shooting that left 17 people dead. In Cruz’s case, the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on a death sentence, with three jurors dissenting. As a result, Cruz received a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The new law requires Florida prosecutors to convince at least a two-thirds supermajority of a 12-member jury panel that a convicted individual deserves the death penalty. Florida now joins Alabama as one of only two states where a unanimous jury decision is not mandatory for recommending the death penalty.