FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 27, 2014
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, (786) 363-2737
MIAMI, FL – Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision striking down a Florida law that set strict criteria based on IQ test scores to determine a defendant’s eligibility for the death penalty.
Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida, responded to the decision with the following statement:
“No one should be surprised that the U.S. Supreme Court will not permit the Florida legislature to impose the death penalty contrary to what Justice Kennedy declared “our nation's commitment to dignity and its duty to teach human decency as the mark of a civilized world."
“The Supreme Court is telling Florida leaders — who passed the unconstitutional law allowing for the execution of Freddie Hall — that if you want to impose the death penalty, it must be done in a way that respects standards of decency and basic human rights.
“This is not the first time the Legislature has ignored standards of decency set by the U.S. Supreme Court and it likely will not be the last. The strict IQ rule struck down by the Supreme Court today is just one example of the many ways in which our state’s death penalty system falls short of constitutional and human rights standards. We should expect the Supreme Court to take more control over Florida’s death penalty system in the future.
“Florida’s death penalty system is broken, and if state leaders wish to continue sentencing people to die, they must address that system’s failings. Florida is the only state in the country where the vote of a simple majority of jurors can recommend that a person receive a sentence of death. This has contributed to our state’s record of having the most errors and exonerations from death row.
“Unless the Legislature fixes the system by which death can be imposed by the vote of a simple majority, it is likely that the Court will take that – and more -- out of their hands."
Earlier this month, the ACLU of Florida launched a petition calling for a moratorium on executions in Florida.
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About the ACLU of Florida The ACLU of Florida is freedom's watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislature and throughout Florida to defend individual rights and personal freedoms guaranteed by the United States and Florida Constitutions and the Bill of Rights. For additional information, visit our web site at: www.aclufl.org