Alabama House votes to remove capital murder judicial override


Rebecca Rakowitz

Alabama legislators voted on Tuesday to remove the power of state judges to hand down the death penalty despite a jury’s recommendation for life in prison, and vice versa.

According to the Associated Press, the Alabama House of Representatives voted 78-19 to abolish the judicial override power which was unique to the state of Alabama.

“[Abolishing the practice] places the death penalty back in the proper perspective. It puts it…where in my opinion the Constitution intends it to be: in the hands of juries,” Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, told the 
Associated Press.

The bill has received bipartisan support, with England sponsoring the bill in the House and State Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) sponsoring it in the Senate.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement that he supports the bill. Should he sign it into law, the legislation would only impact future death 
penalty sentences.

Alabama currently has 183 inmates on death row. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, Alabama judges have overridden jury recommendations and given the death penalty 101 times.