Senate debates judicial override in death penalty cases

Updated: Feb. 23, 2017 at 11:45 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Senate has voted to prohibit judges from imposing a death sentence when a jury has recommended life imprisonment.

Alabama is the only state that continues to allow judicial override of sentences in capital murder cases.

Senators on Thursday approved a bill doing away with judicial override on a 30-1 bipartisan vote. It now moves to the House of Representatives.

Republican Sen. Dick Brewbaker, the bill sponsor, said it only affects future cases and not inmates on death row.

Sen. Cam Ward said it is "morally wrong" to continue the practice.

The Equal Justice Initiative says Alabama judges have overridden jury recommendations 112 times. In 101 of those, judges gave a death sentence.

Sen. Trip Pittman, the single no vote, says he believes judges chose the "right sentence."

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