DeSantis Passes Extremely Controversial New Bill

Matt Johnson from Omaha, Nebraska, United States, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday (April 20), Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation ending the state’s requirement that a unanimous jury recommends the death penalty for a serious crime.

Taking to Twitter with an image of the bill signing, DeSantis wrote, “Today, I signed legislation ensuring victims of the most heinous crimes” receive justice.

DeSantis noted that following a unanimous jury finding a defendant guilty, a single juror should not be able to veto the death penalty.”

The Florida Governor’s move comes after the state faced backlash when a jury failed to reach a unanimous agreement to recommend the death penalty for the Parkland school shooter last November.

DeSantis, who is expected to Pursue a 2024 White House Bid, signed Florida Senate Bill 450, reducing the unanimity requirement of all 12 jurors recommending the death penalty to eight jurors.

According to the legislation, if fewer than eight jurors recommend the death penalty, the court would instead impose a life sentence without parole.

In nearly all 27 states where the death penalty is legal, a defendant can only be sentenced to death with a unanimous jury decision, with Florida’s recent changes being lower than Alabama’s 10-2 threshold.

Nikolas Cruz, who killed 14 students and three staff members in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, received a sentence of life in prison after a jury was unable to agree on the death penalty.

Following DeSantis signing the bill, the ACLU of Florida condemned the signing, describing it as a “dark day in Florida history.”