Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, after the state Senate voted 30-1 to end Alabama’s judicial override policy, which allows judges to impose a death sentence in capital cases despite a jury’s sentencing recommendation of life in prison without the possibility of parole:
“The Senate’s vote to end judicial override in death penalty cases is a step in the right direction for Alabama’s justice system. The right to a trial by jury is a cornerstone of our justice system, and we should respect a jury’s ability to weigh the evidence for sentencing, just as we do on guilt or innocence. Alabama is the only state that still allows judicial overrides, and it’s time to join the rest of the country in making this outdated practice a thing of the past.”
The right to a trial by jury is one of the most sacred elements of the American criminal justice system. The basic principle of being judged by a jury of peers is a cornerstone of a nation built on a populist spirit and suspicion of elites. But in Alabama, members of a jury in a capital murder trial are not empowered to set the sentence. Rather, a single judge, and not the jury, makes the ultimate decision about whether the defendant should be executed. More than 100 people have been sentenced to death in Alabama since 1978 despite a jury’s sentencing recommendation of life without parole.
Alabama is the last state in the country to allow these “judicial overrides.” Two bills in the Alabama Legislature’s 2017 regular session – HB 32, sponsored by Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, and SB 16, sponsored by Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Pike Road – would end judicial overrides and respect the jury’s decision in weighty matters of life or death.
This fact sheet by Arise policy analyst Stephen Stetson examines the history and shortcomings of judicial overrides and explains why it makes sense both morally and financially for Alabama to abolish this unusual practice.
Your voice matters! Make plans now to speak up for a better Alabama by attending Arise's 2017 Legislative Day on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in Montgomery. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. that day in the Capitol Auditorium, with the issue briefing starting at 10 a.m. Next will be a news conference at 11:15 a.m., followed by a legislative reception at noon and legislative visits at 1 p.m. We'll wrap up the event with a membership meeting at 2:15 p.m.
It'll be an exciting day, and we hope to see you there. Our lunch reception is now full, but we welcome you to attend the rest of the day's events. Click here to get more information about Legislative Day. Together, we can build a better Alabama for all!
Arise has worked for more than 25 years to build a better Alabama for all – and that work has never been more important than right now. We face a challenging policy landscape on health care, education, consumer protection and many other issues. It’s unclear what may happen to the groundwork Arise has laid for Medicaid reform and expansion in Alabama, or to recent federal proposals to protect consumers from high-cost payday and title loans.
It’s time to get to work, and we need your help every step of the way. Please become an Arise member today and help us strengthen our efforts to make life better for all Alabamians.
The stakes are high for families across our state. Arise will continue to fight for access to affordable health care for all Alabamians. We will continue to work to save important reforms enacted under the Affordable Care Act that protect patients like you and your family. We will continue to press Alabama legislators to act on important state issues like increasing the minimum wage, protecting borrowers, and investing in housing and transportation.
Arise is moving forward, and we need you with us. If you’ve been intending to become an Arise member, now is the time! Join our movement for a better Alabama today and add your voice to our call for a better Alabama for all.
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Order it. Binge-read it. Impress others with your mastery of budgets, tax thresholds, structural deficits and what they all mean in the real world. It’s all yours at the bargain price of free!
AL.COM - Jeff Sessions flexes Trump influence in fight with DeVos on transgender student rights.
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AL.COM – State Rep. Anthony Daniels: Alabama legislature doesn't have a moment to lose.
AL.COM – Contributor Lauren Denton: Turning the page: Same South, new voice?
AL.COM – Contributor Brett Talley: What the pundits get wrong about Luther Strange.
REVEAL NEWS - Child Care Safety Act would give state oversight of religious day cares.
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ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER - Lawmaker: Letter proves governor knows he’s breaking the law.
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ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER - Columnist Joey Kennedy: Gun permits are a small, but necessary, restriction.
ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER - Columnist Steve Flowers’ Inside the Statehouse: The circus begins, and it will leave a mess behind.
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YELLOWHAMMER NEWS - Report: Alabama is the second most religious state in the nation.
WAAY TV - Cost of childcare weighs on parents, state unable to help.
DECATUR DAILY - ‘Drugged driving’ bill stalls in committee.
(FLORENCE) TIMES DAILY - Commissions support gas tax increase.
(FLORENCE) TIMES DAILY - Church security bill faces questions.
(FLORENCE) TIMES DAILY - Greer: Winery bill stalled by opposition.
GADSDEN TIMES - The Gadsden Times: Pistol permits serve a legitimate public interest.
GADSDEN TIMES - Contributor Mary Scott Hunter: Tests are a part of life.
ANNISTON STAR - CDP staff had concerns about ricin 5 years before mistake was discovered.
ANNISTON STAR - Bill would block measure against ticket scalping.
ANNISTON STAR - The Anniston Star: It's time to do the right thing in Alabama about groceries.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER - Bill would extend tax credit for rural physicians.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER - Selma mayor, senator clash over cost of Bridge Crossing.
OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS - The Opelika-Auburn News: Too many elephants fill the chambers where Alabama politics are fed.
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WASHINGTON POST - Donald Trump is losing his war with the media.
WASHINGTON POST – Columnist George Will: America’s utterly predictable tsunami of pension problems.
WASHINGTON POST – Columnist Dana Milbank: Trump should try acting a bit more vice presidential.
WASHINGTON POST – Contributors Nancy Northup and Rachel B. Tiven: If abortion rights fall, LGBT rights are next.
WASHINGTON POST - At a town hall in Trump country, an America that’s pleading to be heard.
WASHINGTON POST - GOP senator says she’s open to demanding Trump’s tax returns as part of Russia probe.
WASHINGTON POST - Republicans’ dream of tax reform is in big trouble.
WASHINGTON POST - Conservatives learn dealing with Trump can be complicated.
NEW YORK TIMES - Immigrants Hide, Fearing Capture on ‘Any Corner’
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