Florida’s recent decision to allow death sentences without a unanimous jury recommendation increases the risk of executing an innocent person, according to conservative commentator Christian Schneider (pictured). In a May 25, 2023 column for The National Review, Schneider argues that conservatives should oppose the law that allows a death sentence to be imposed when only eight jurors agree.

“For every case in which guilt is a foregone conclusion, there are many others in which the facts are muddier. And these cases can lead the government to executing innocent people,” Schneider writes. Florida has more death-row exonerations than any other state, with 30, and nearly all of those cases involved non-unanimous sentencing recommendations. Schneider explains why he thinks non-unanimity is not pragmatic, even for supporters of capital punishment: “It would seem that for Floridians who wanted to keep capital punishment on the books, it would be shrewd to have the highest possible jury standard, because the quickest way for a state to lose the death penalty is for more innocent people to be fast-tracked to the electric chair.” 

He goes on to link his argument to growing concerns among Trump supporters about the legal system, writing, “To put it in MAGA terms, the same criminal-jury process that many Republicans think unjustly turned January 6 defendants into ‘political prisoners’ can also be unjustly used to end people’s lives. And in Florida, it will be much easier to do so, with no return policy if someone is unjustly executed.” He concludes, “[T]hose concerned about government abuse should be troubled by the relaxing of the constraints that keep governments from exercising their most serious power: the ability to kill people.”


Christian Schneider, Weakening Capital Punishment Jury Standards Risks Injustice, The National Review, May 252023.