A few days ago the governor of Florida, Republican Rick Scott, signed legislation that would put more severe restrictions on the state's death penalty law. This law is just one of the more recent efforts by Florida to try and resume its death penalty process, which got put on hold two different times last year after rulings in separate cases by the Florida Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.

What is this new law?

The new law that Governor Scott signed tightens the enforcement of the death penalty by requiring that there be a unanimous recommendation by a jury before a judge could consider imposing it on a criminal.

Florida was only one of only two states that allowed a judge to impose a capital punishment sentence without the unanimous agreement of a jury. Now, this leaves Alabama as the only state that still lets a judge apply a capital punishment sentence without needing the unanimous agreement of a jury. Even after the new law got signed, it is not directly clear has to when executions would restart in the state. There is still speculation that even with this new law that it still could lead to courts in the state resume the process of deciding on if they should apply the death penalty in new cases in the future. This is also affected by the previous Florida Supreme Court ruling, which will be discussed in the next section.

The background to the law getting signed

Back in January 2016, the United States Supreme Court struck down a Florida law, saying that it unconstitutionally let judges decide the facts that would lead to a death sentence ruling, rather than juries. This verdict by the Supreme Court has put executions in Florida, which has the second-largest death row in America, on hold.

In October 2016 the Florida Supreme Court struck down a different law that let judges impose the death penalty if at least ten jurors recommended it. The law that Governor Scott signed was quickly passed in the past few weeks by the state's Republican-controlled legislature before coming to his desk.