Death penalty

Florida Bill Allowing The Death Penalty For Child Rapists Goes Into Effect

Florida’s law that could place child rapists on death row is now a reality, CBS News reports.

“Unfortunately, in our society, we have very heinous sex crimes that are committed against children under the age of 12 years old,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said upon signing HB 1297 on May 1, 2023 “These are really the worst of the worst. The perpetrators of these crimes are often serial offenders.”

The legislation was approved 34-5 in the Senate and 95-14 in the House.

Under the law, juries will still need to find criminals guilty unanimously before sentencing can happen. Also, judges can impose the death penalty or sentence defendants to life in prison. If fewer than eight jurors recommend death, judges must impose life sentences. The Supreme Court and Florida Supreme Court have banned death sentences for rapists.

DeSantis has openly disagreed with the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling on capital punishment. “This bill sets up a procedure to be able to challenge that precedent and to be able to say that, in Florida, we think that the worst of the worst crimes deserve the worst of the worst punishment,” he said.

In a state that has pushed religion as a factor for some of its laws, some Florida lawmakers like Sen. Rosalind Osgood (D-FL) aren’t on board with the new death penalty legislation.

“I love kids, and I’ll do anything to protect them, but I struggle from a faith perspective,” Osgood said. “If I believe in my faith that God can redeem and save anybody, then how do I support someone getting the death penalty? And I’m just talking about me. That’s my struggle. That’s my challenge.”

Related: ‘America, You Next?’ Ghans Bans the Death Penalty 30 Years After Last Execution