Alabama is the only state left allowing judicial override. That’s where elected judges can overrule a jury verdict of life to impose a death sentence. But that might come to an end. This week, the Alabama Senate passed a bill that would prohibit the practice. WBHM’s Gigi Douban talked with Don Dailey of Alabama Public Television about this and other happenings in the legislature this week.
The Senate approved the judicial override bill 30-1. The legislation won support from judges, Dailey says, because the outcry on the issue has reached reached a boiling point. He adds there’ve been a number of high-profile cases where judicial override was a factor.
Almost 20 percent of those on Alabama’s death row were sentenced to death through judicial override, according to the Equal Justice Initiative. That organization says judicial override is the primary reason Alabama has the highest per capita death sentencing rate in the country.
A similar bill in the House would require that jury decisions imposing a death sentence be unanimous.