Should Juries Be Informed of Previously Imposed Sentences ?

In Bates v. State, 750 So.2d 6 (Fla. 1999), the defendant appealed from a death sentence imposed on resentencing for a murder that occurred in 1982. See id. at 8. The court stated the following in rejecting Bates' claim that the jury should have been informed of his previously imposed sentences: Appellant contends that the fact that he was already sentenced to two life terms plus fifteen years and that those sentences were to run consecutively to the sentence for the murder was relevant mitigation "in the sense that it might serve as a basis for a sentence less than death." We have rejected similar arguments in Franqui v. State, 699 So.2d 1312, 1326 (Fla. 1997); Marquard v. State, 641 So.2d 54 (Fla. 1994); and Nixon v. State, 572 So.2d 1336 (Fla. 1990). These other sentences are not relevant mitigation on the issue of whether appellant will actually remain in prison for the length of those sentences. The length of actual prison time is affected by many factors other than the length of the sentence imposed by the sentencing court. The introduction of this evidence would open the door to conjecture and speculation as to how much time a prisoner serves of a sentence and distract jurors from the relevant issue of what is the appropriate sentence for the murder conviction. Bates, 750 So.2d at 11.