Pedophiles could get death penalty in Florida because of new bill signed by DeSantis

by Jacob Fuller

Trey Paul, FISM News 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent a clear message to criminals, especially those who commit crimes against children, after signing three new crime bills into law on Monday.

Two of the bills, which are aimed at protecting kids, ensure child rapists are eligible for the death penalty and impose additional penalties on fentanyl and drug-related crimes targeted at children. Gov. DeSantis says the other protects Floridians from disastrous bail reform policies pushed by liberal prosecutors.

“While crime is spiraling out of control in many other parts of the country, Florida is enacting policies that are tough on crime and as a result, Florida is at a 50-year crime low,” Gov. DeSantis said.

One of the bills that is particularly tough on crime is House Bill 1297 which, according to the governor’s office, imposes the death penalty on those who “commit sexual battery against children under the age of 12.”

“In Florida, we believe it’s only appropriate that the worst of the worst crimes deserve the worst of the worst punishment,” Gov. DeSantis wrote in a recent tweet.

The bill also guarantees the minimum sentence for all child rapists is life in prison without the possibility of parole and promotes reforms to reinstate capital punishment for these crimes.

According to the legislation, the state will require prosecutors seeking the death penalty in these cases to identify at least two aggravating factors, including whether the person has a history of being a sexual predator or holds a custodial position over the child. Some cases could be resentenced if the law is later determined to be unconstitutional.


However, House Bill 1297 is an apparent violation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana, which found it unconstitutional for states to use capital punishment for a crime other than murder.

“We think that in the worst of the worst cases, the only appropriate punishment is the ultimate punishment, and so this bill sets up a procedure to be able to challenge that precedent,” Gov. DeSantis said at a news conference in Titusville.

Gov. DeSantis has gone as far as to say he is prepared to go to the U.S. Supreme Court “to overrule judicial precedents which have unjustly shielded child rapists from the death penalty and denied victims and their loved ones the opportunity to pursue ultimate justice against these most heinous criminals.”

The bill is receiving bipartisan support in the Florida Legislature and was co-sponsored by State Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D-Broward). Sen. Book, who was sexually abused as a child, said “there is no statute of limitations” on the suffering victims.

“This is a life sentence that is handed down to young children,” Sen. Book said. “We’re talking about the youngest of the young in this bill. I was one of those kids. I still to this day at 38 years old deal with the very, very real lasting effects of this crime. It never goes away. Sometimes you close your eyes and you see it. I don’t get a chance to make it stop.”


Last month, FISM News reported on another “tough-on-crime” bill that Gov. DeSantis signed into law which allows a jury to sentence a person to death with an 8-to-4 vote. Before, a unanimous jury decision was required for a convicted person to receive the death penalty.

It’s important to note the 8-to-4 supermajority standard only applies to the sentencing phase of a trial. That means a jury still has to vote unanimously that a person is guilty of a crime in order for that conviction to be registered.

House Bill 1297 goes into effect in October.