Eleven months after the US Supreme Court declared Florida's death penalty to be unconstitutional, the state supreme court ruled that more than 200 inmates on Florida's death row may have the right to new sentencing, the Orlando Sentinel reports. According to the Washington Post, that means more than half of Florida's massive death row population could potentially avoid execution. Last January, the US Supreme Court found Florida's death penalty violated the Sixth Amendment because it gave judges too much power, and juries too little, in deciding whether the guilty party lives or dies. It had told Arizona essentially the same thing way back in 2002.
So on Thursday, the Florida supreme court ruled that the 55% of death row inmates who received their sentences after 2002 have the right to seek new sentencing trials. According to the ruling, no guilty verdicts will be changed and no one will be let out of prison prior to their new sentencing. The ruling also does the opposite for the half of death row inmates sentenced before 2002, the Miami Herald reports. They will not be allowed to seek new sentencing, meaning executions can start again in Florida for the first time since the US Supreme Court's ruling. A number of Florida supreme court justices had argued that the US Supreme Court's ruling should apply to all death row inmates, but they were outnumbered. (Read more death penalty stories.)