Alabama Supreme Court upholds "Judicial Overrides" for death penalty

Oct 1, 2016

The Alabama Supreme Court is upholding the state’s controversial death penalty sentencing structure. This policy was the subject of parts one and three of Alabama Public Radio’s on-going series on justice reform and prison reform. At issue, is a statute that allows Alabama judges to overrule a jury’s recommendation of life in prison in favor of the death penalty. Alabama is the State that does this after Florida’s policy was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, and Delaware declared its own statute to be unconstitutional. Click below to hear APR’s stories on the policy and how it impacts the family of death row inmate Roy Doster, and how this Alabama statute plays into our examination of the State's Wrongful Incarceration Act. That measure is supposed to compensate people imprisoned for crime's they didn't do. Only one exoneree has been paid in fifteen years.

Alabama Justices on Friday rejected an inmate's claim that his sentence must be struck down after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Florida's similar structure. The Alabama judges said there were enough differences to make Alabama's method constitutional. Attorney General Luther Strange praised the decision as a victory for victims' families and criminal justice.