Background: House Bill 14 proposes that a unanimous vote by a jury is required to impose a death sentence and would provide that people who are currently on death row but did not have unanimous death verdicts at their trials would be resentenced to life without parole. Alabama is the only state that does not require unanimous jury verdicts to sentence a person to death and this bill would bring our state’s capital punishment system in line with the rest of the nation. Alabama has approximately 35 people on death row who had juries that voted to sentence them to life without parole and though that practice of judicial override was outlawed in 2017, HB14 would give that law retroactive effect.
Our Position: We support HB14. Alabama’s draconian practice of capital punishment is so inconsistent with the underlying values of our democratic system -- the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness -- that the imposition of the death penalty for any crime is a denial of civil liberties. The Constitution makes clear that jury verdicts must be unanimous and death sentences should not stand where juries were divided on the question of the appropriate sentence.