Ala. lawmakers to vote on death penalty bill

Alabama is the only state that allows a judge to override a jury's sentence recommendation in capital murder cases


Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama lawmakers will vote next month on whether to prohibit a judge from imposing a death sentence when a jury has recommended life imprisonment.

Alabama is the only state that allows a judge to override a jury's sentence recommendation in capital murder cases.

In this Nov. 20, 2008, file photo, the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary is shown with the witness gallery behind glass at right, in Walla Walla, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
In this Nov. 20, 2008, file photo, the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary is shown with the witness gallery behind glass at right, in Walla Walla, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The Alabama House of Representatives is scheduled to debate the bill on April 4 when lawmakers return from a two-week spring break. The Senate has already approved the measure.

The bill is third on the proposed debate agenda for the day.

According to the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, since 1976 Alabama judges have overridden jury recommendations 112 times. In 101 of those cases, the judges gave a death sentence.

The legislation would only affect future capital cases, not inmates currently on Alabama's death row.

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