Florida Cracks Down on Child Sex Offenders


Samantha Epner, Staff Writer

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.reuters.com%2Fworld%2Fus%2Ffloridas-desantis-picks-finance-director-prospective-presidential-campaign-2023-04-07%2F&psig=AOvVaw1R-9y46memOrNct6H7wOai&ust=1684183351230000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CBAQjRxqFwoTCICe54TW9f4CFQAAAAAdAAAAABAEIn recent years, the issue of the death penalty has become increasingly controversial, with many people questioning whether it is an appropriate form of punishment for any crime. Flordia’s decision to approve the death penalty for child sex offenders has only added fuel to this ongoing debate. In 2021, Florida approved the death penalty for child sex offenders, making it the latest state in the US to impose this punishment. On Monday, May First governor Ron Desantis of Florida expanded a bill previously signed into law. The law allows the death penalty to be on the table when child sex offenders are sentenced to prison. It makes the rape of a child under 12 a capital crime. A capital crime can be punishable by the death penalty. The death penalty can only be on the table if an adult (over 18) rapes someone under 12; before this, sexual offenders were often sentenced to life in prison. Many see the law as continual because of a previous supreme court ruling. 

In 2008 the Supreme Court overturned a Louisiana law that allowed child rapists the death penalty. It was ruled 5-4 that unless child rapist also murders their victims, they cant be sentenced to the death penalty. The reason is that if the victim does not die, under the 8th Amendment sentencing the offender to the death penalty would be seen as cruel and unusual punishment that doesn’t fit the crime. Many attorneys have said the bill passed goes against the supreme court ruling and will cause future problems. Desantis responded by claiming he would take the account to the high courts if he had to. His defense of the bill relies on claims that its society’s job is to protect children. Desantis’s justification is that he believes even when a child rape victim does not die, the mental and physical scars are left with the victim and family for a long time.

The bill allows that only eight jurors are needed to give the death penalty. This comes only a month after Desantis amended a bill that makes it so the 12 jurors unanimously don’t have to agree when sentencing someone with the death penalty. Desantis passing new accounts on the death penalty is seen by most as a camping tactic. It’s rumored that within just days Desantis will announce his run for the presidency in 2024. Many majority Republican states have been reintroducing capital punishment and amending their death penalty laws. Democrats are going the opposite way to lessen the death penalty and capital punishment. Given that capital punishment is a controversial topic, especially during election years, Desantis is seen as furthering his political agenda by instituting these bills. 

For many years there has been massive controversy around the death penalty, specifically for child sex offenders. Ultimately, the decision to impose the death penalty for child sex offenders is a complex and controversial issue that will continue to be debated for years.