Gov. Ron DeSantis supported legislation that would allow the death penalty for people found guilty of sexually abusing children was approved by Florida lawmakers.
After previously required unanimity, the bipartisan measure, which was approved by a vote of 34-5 late on Tuesday, will now let juries to impose death sentences with at least an 8-4 majority.
The legislation would be applicable to individuals found guilty of molesting a kid under the age of 12. It was approved by the Florida House of Representatives last week by a vote of 95 to 14 and DeSantis is anticipated to sign it.
“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 stated in an interview.
The bill’s co-sponsors, state Sen. Jonathan Martin (R-Fort Myers) and state Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D-Davie), stated that people who sexually abuse children are likely to do the same crime again and should face the harshest punishment possible.
Book remarked, “Once a predator has a child ensnared, they will harm that child over and over and over again. And then move on to another innocent child.”
Although she acknowledged that sexual assaults against children are serious offenses, state senator Rosalind Osgood (D-Broward), one of the five who opposed the bill, informed her colleagues that she had difficulty enforcing the death sentence generally due to her religious convictions.
Additionally, the bill contradicts Supreme Court precedent. In the 2008 case Kennedy v. Louisiana, the Supreme Court decided on a 5-4 vote that no one who committed a crime in which the victim did not die could receive the death penalty.
DeSantis did, however, make a suggestion this week that the current Supreme Court, which consists of three liberals and six conservatives, would be willing to overrule that judgment.
After a jury decided against giving life in prison to Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz, the death penalty debate gained notoriety in Florida last year.
“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 through the democratic process – not to be on a jury and to nullify capital punishment,” the governor remarked.