Juries would have to be unanimous before recommending the death penalty for defendants in murder cases under a bill filed Tuesday by a South Florida lawmaker.
The bill (HB 139), proposed by Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, will be considered during the 2015 legislative session. Under current law, a majority of a jury can recommend that a defendant receive the death penalty, with a judge ultimately deciding whether to impose the sentence
Now, I oppose letting state employees kill anyone in cold blood (as opposed to "in the heat of the moment" necessity in defense of the lives of self or others), period. And I don't think that position is something justified solely in terms of my own anarchism.
For you "limited government" types out there, how can a government be considered "limited" in any sense if it has the acknowledged power to kill someone who is, at the moment, not a threat to the lives of others by virtue of having been brought to bay and caged? Any other power can be curtailed ex post facto: Taxes can be refunded, property that was taken can be given back, innocent people who were jailed can be released and paid restitution for the damage done them. Once you've killed a guy, it's done. There's no way to undo it, there's no way to compensate the dead person if it turns out he or she was innocent of the offense, etc. Capital punishment is, by any reasonable definition, an instance of unlimited government.
But, while I'd like to get rid of capital punishment altogether, I can endorse pre-application limits on it as an interim measure without judging myself hypocritical. I think requiring a unanimous jury recommendation is a good start.
A good next step would be to forbid voir dire questioning of prospective jurors with respect to their views on capital punishment (in at least some states, the law allows for or requires dismissal of jurors from capital cases if they oppose the death penalty).
A good third step would be to outlaw the practice of keeping the identities of the killers and their accessories secret, as some states already do or are moving to do (the current excuse being that pharmacies won't sell the state its killing drugs unless their identities are kept secret from the people who pay the bills).
But the next to the absolutely best thing would be to simply deny the state the power to kill in cold blood (the absolutely best thing would be to abolish the state altogether, of course).