There are two possible sentences in capital murder cases, death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Alabama is the only state that allows a judge to override a jury's recommendation when sentencing capital murder cases.
According to the Equal Justice Initiative. Alabama judges have overridden jury recommendations 112 times. In 101 of those cases, the judges gave a death sentence.
That is all about to change. The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill that would end the authority of judges to override jury recommendations in capital cases.
The proposal to end judicial override is not new. The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down Florida's use of judicial override.
Ebony Howard, associate legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, issued a statement applauding the bill's passage.
"Alabama should do everything it can to ensure that an innocent person is never executed," Howard said. "The bipartisan effort to pass a bill that would keep a judge from overriding a jury's vote in capital cases is a step in the right direction. As of today, Alabama is one step closer to joining every other state in our nation in prohibiting judicial override in the sentencing phase of death penalty cases."
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