HomeCrimeFlorida proposes bills to give child rapists death penalty

Florida proposes bills to give child rapists death penalty

 at the Supreme Court building in Washington, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. Left to right: Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Left to right: Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, and Associate Justice Samuel Alito.

Florida Republicans doubled down on their plans to increase executions in the Sunshine State by introducing legislation that would expand the reach of the death penalty beyond limitations put into place by the Supreme Court.

Just weeks after legislators backed Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plans to eliminate the unanimous-jury requirement for death sentences, two Sunshine State legislators introduced bills that would allow child rapists to be put to death.

The bills directly conflict with rulings by the Florida Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court, but legislators declared those rulings to be “wrongly decided,” arguing that any prohibition on the right to sentence child rapists to death is an infringement on states’ rights.

State Sen. Jonathan Martin (R-Fort Myers) and Rep. Jessica Baker (R-Jacksonville) filed  SB 1342 and HB 1297, respectively, just in time for the legislative session that began Tuesday. The bills make good on DeSantis’ sweeping criminal justice efforts, but contradict settled precedent by both the Florida Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.

The proposed laws create the crime of “capital sexual battery,” a felony that allows for the death penalty as a possible punishment after a court conducts a sentencing hearing like those used in capital murder cases. The laws also permit a person found guilty of capital sexual battery to be put to death after a non-unanimous jury vote of 8 to 4.

In the text of the bills, the legislature addresses a glaring problem: two controlling cases prohibit the death penalty as a punishment for child rape.

Specifically, the bills state, “The Legislature further finds that Buford v. State of Florida (1981) … was wrongly decided, and that Kennedy v. Louisiana … (2008), was wrongly decided and an egregious infringement of the states’ power to punish the most heinous of crimes.”

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