Nikolas Cruz, 24, has escaped the death sentence for murdering 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018.
A jury on Thursday recommended he be sentenced to life without parole, angering many of the victims’ relatives who claimed letting Cruz live is not justice.
“Prison isn’t punishment!” Max Schachter, the father of 14-year-old Alex Schachter, posted on Twitter, “That’s what he wanted.” He added Cruz would likely be shielded in detention, allowed to “read, draw, get phone calls & letters” while “his 17 victims languished in dread” before he murdered them.
Parkland shooting victims
Much of what we don’t know about Cruz’s jail life will be clarified when he is sentenced next month.
Jury advice Thursday is a suggestion, not a statement. Since Thursday, jurors have detailed intensive discussions, and one member claimed feeling intimidated; the sheriff’s office is investigating.
Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will sentence Cruz on November 1 at 9 a.m., but she cannot deviate from the jury’s decision of life in prison.
Before sentencing, victims and family members will speak.
Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes said Thursday that the jury’s sentencing recommendation is final, adding that in Florida, “victims have a constitutional right to be heard at every level of the procedure.”
“The court will honor their right to be heard. Weekes added, “We respect, acknowledge, and follow that.” “However, we must also remember the jury went through days of challenging, horrific evidence and delivered a judgment. We must honor that.
Janet Johnson, a Florida criminal defense attorney, says Cruz may give a sentencing statement.
Cruz will go to a welcome center.
Cruz pled guilty to striking a correctional guard in November 2018 and was sentenced to 25 years in state prison.
After his sentence is handed down, he will likely stay in county prison for a few weeks before being transferred to Florida’s Department of Corrections and brought to a receiving facility.
Weekes said Cruz would likely go to South Florida Reception Center.
Johnson claimed he’ll spend weeks in the welcome center “getting physical and mental exams.” “They’ll look at his past and his degree of criminality, which is the highest, and propose a state prison.”
According to the Florida Department of Corrections website, the selected institution is based on the inmate’s charges, duration of sentence, time left to serve, past criminal record, escape history, and prison adjustment.
Most dangerous criminals with extended sentences and those least likely to adapt to prison are housed in more security institutions, according to the prisons department website. After assessments, the person is transported to the most suitable institution.
Cruz will likely be put in a jail alongside other high-profile or “extremely dangerous offenders,” Johnson added.
“But he wouldn’t be isolated, which is a genuine hazard for him because there may be individuals who want to perform ‘jail justice,'” Johnson said.
According to a prisons department guidebook, close custody convicts “must be kept inside an armed perimeter or under direct, armed control while outside a secure perimeter.”
CNN’s queries about Cruz’s detention were not answered by the correctional department.
His defense suggested jail hazards.
Melisa McNeill, the lead defense counsel in Cruz’s death sentence trial, alluded to the threats he could face in jail, saying he will “wait to die” in a facility “either by natural causes or whatever else may happen to him while he’s in prison.”
Linda Beigel Schulman, mother of geography teacher Scott Beigel, said Cruz would “look over his shoulder (in jail) every minute of his life.”
“I pray he feels terror every second of his life, just as he gave our loved ones,” she added. “He should live in constant terror”
Mail, visits, tablets are among his jail perks.
Parents of Parkland victims, notably Schachter, have pointed out aspects of Cruz’s jail life their children missed.
Johnson claimed he’ll be able to receive letters and meet guests. Johnson said he might also have a tablet for emailing and texting.
Inmates and their families may connect using interactive kiosks and iPads, according to the department of prisons website. According to the website, these programs are accessible in all major Florida prisons.
“You can see (victims’) relatives saying, ‘We can’t do that,'” Johnson said. “It’s clear.”