DeSantis proposes execution eligibility for child rapists, stiffer drug crime penalties, more

News & Politics

Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) proposed a slate of criminal justice reforms on Thursday, including making convicted child rapists eligible for execution and reducing the number of jurors required to recommend the death penalty.

“We want to make sure that we cement our reputation as being a law-and-order state and take actions as necessary to help further protect the people of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said Thursday at a Miami Police Benevolent Association event.

“Right now in Florida, our crime rate is at a 50-year low. Overall crime down nearly 10% year-over-year, murder down 14%, burglary down 15[%], and robbery down 7%,” he added.

DeSantis summarized the proposals in a tweet on Thursday afternoon.

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Part of the proposed anti-crime legislation “ensures the minimum sentence for all child rapists is life in prison without the possibility of parole and advances reforms to reinstate capital punishment for these crimes.”

Drug-related proposals include imposing additional penalties when the drug resembles candy and dedicating $20 million to support local law enforcement efforts, like fentanyl-specific strike teams.

DeSantis also proposed reducing the number of jurors required to recommend the death penalty. Rather than requiring unanimity, a jury could recommend the death penalty with a supermajority of its members.

In the case of the Parkland, Florida, school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, the jury did not reach a unanimous decision, so Cruz did not receive a death sentence. DeSantis said he believes justice was not served in that case, and that a single juror should not have the power to veto a recommendation for capital punishment.

DeSantis’ proposal also includes a number of measures designed to keep dangerous criminals out of communities. One proposal would limit who is eligible for release before the individual appears before a judge. Another would require a detention hearing prior to trial for dangerous crimes.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody also spoke at the event, as did several law enforcement officials.

“Safe communities don’t happen by accident,” Moody said. She added that “drastic action” was necessary, given “the lethal potency [of fentanyl] coupled with the sheer volume that is in our country and in this state.”

“Common sense does not seem to be very common anymore in many parts of this nation, but it will reign supreme here in Florida,” Moody said, referencing soft-on-crime policies in municipalities like Los Angeles, Portland, New York City, and Chicago. Moody contends those policies can seriously endanger law-abiding citizens.

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