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Alabama: Activists Push to Resentence Some on Death Row

Activists held a rally Thursday outside the Alabama Statehouse urging lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow the re-sentencing of Death Row inmates affected by a now-abolished system that allowed judges to override a jury to be resentenced, reports the Associated Press. In 2017, Alabama became the last state to abandon the practice of allowing judges to override a jury’s sentence recommendation in death penalty cases. The change was not retroactive.

There are multiple examples of a jury recommending imprisonment only to be overridden by a judge issuing the death penalty. Kenneth Smith, who was executed this year, had a jury in 1996 that recommended a life sentence by a vote of 11-1. But a judge overrode the recommendation and sentenced Smith to death. Rocky Myers, who is now sitting on death row, would have been given a life prison sentence by his jury in 1994, but the jurors were overruled by a judge. The bill is before the House Judiciary Committee. It has yet to receive a vote with 13 meeting days remaining in the legislative session.


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