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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he will sign bill to institute death penalty for child rapists

 April 18, 2023

Governor Ron DeSantis is taking a tough-on-crime stance with child rapists and murder as expectation mounts regarding his presidential bid for 2024.

DeSantis believes there are some cases in which the death penalty is appropriate

"We are authorizing the death penalty for child rapists, which is cutting against recent Supreme Court precedent, but I think we're right on the law and I think the current court would consider a challenge to that," DeSantis said during a Monday interview on the Good Morning Orlando radio show.

Five of the judges who originally participated in making the ruling are no longer a part of the Supreme Court, either because of retirement or because they have died, according to the New York Post.

DeSantis went on to detail his thoughts, stating that, "... my view is you have some of these people that will be serial rapists of six, seven-year-old kids. I think the death penalty is the only appropriate punishment when you have situations like that."

DeSantis explains why he feels 'unanimous requirement' can hinder proper justice

When asked about the removal of the "unanimous requirement in death penalty cases," DeSantis referenced the Parkland shooter case.

"Yeah, because what happened with the Parkland case, it was an 11 to 1 vote to give the death penalty for the perpetrator of the Parkland massacres, and one juror that held out."

That one juror was able to wield a rather significant shift in the outcome of the case.

"The problem is, if you do it like that, if just one juror objects to the death penalty, then they can nullify the death sentence," DeSantis said.

DeSantis went on to explain that prosecutors can search for jurors that believe in using the death penalty in cases where such a ruling seems to fit the crime.

"Now prosecutors are entitled to get a death qualified jury, which means every juror says they would be willing, under the right circumstances, to vote to administer capital punishment, but I think what you have is, you have people with that 'agenda to bear,' and they're willing to get in on that jury and do that [nullification of the death sentence], he said.

"So when you said it's not unanimous, I think it's a protection against the nullification," he added.

DeSantis respects that some people don't believe in capital punishment

DeSantis said he respects that there are some people who don't believe in capital punishment. However, he feels there is a proper process to push for that over getting on a jury and attempting to nullify every case where the death penalty could be administered.

"Look, if you don't support capital punishment, I respect that, but the way to deal with that is to try to get the laws changed in the state due to democratic process. It's not to be on a jury and to nullify capital punishment in a case in which, you know, the Parkland, that was really the only appropriate punishment. Now he's going to be in prison the rest of his life and he's going to cost the tax payers a fortune for 60, 70 years potentially, and that's not really justice for the family."

DeSantis went on to note that he's pushing for Florida to be able to have a less complicated system in cases where a crime that seems fitting of capital punishment can receive that ruling as an option.

"So I think...what we're doing is what used to be. Our old Supreme Court struck that law down, our current Supreme Court, which is conservative, overruled that precedent, so all we're doing is basically what Florida had done historically," he said.

Florida's SB 1342 was a bipartisan effort, and was introduced by Republican Sen. Jonathan Martin of Fort Myres, and Democratic Senate leader Lauren Book of Plantation, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Book, who was herself a victim of childhood sexual abuse, has made a point of speaking out about her traumatic and terrifying experience. She also runs a charity organization that focuses on childhood sex abuse prevention, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

A Similar legislation has been filed in the House as HB 1297.