TITUSVILLE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed tough new legislation that will beef up penalties for drug-dealers who target kids and make child rapists eligible for the death penalty. Another measure will shield Floridians from left-wing bail reform policies that have led to increased crime rates by softening penalties for law-breakers.
Gov. DeSantis’ office announced the approval of the laws in a Monday afternoon press release, touting the measures as a means to “strengthen public safety and further Florida’s position as the leading state in the nation for law and order.”
Today, I signed legislation that will:
– Makes child rapists eligible for the death penalty with the minimum sentence of life in prison without parole
– Impose additional penalties on fentanyl and drug-related crimes targeted at children
– Protect Floridians from disastrous… pic.twitter.com/sO1mkcfm0a
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 1, 2023
“Florida is a law-and-order state with a 50-year record low crime rate and double-digit year-over-year decreases in murder, burglary, and overall crime,” DeSantis said, adding the measures are designed “to protect our communities and keep Florida safe, with a particular emphasis on keeping criminals in jail and throwing the book at pedophiles.”
One of the new laws, HB 1627, will shield Floridians from the impacts of progressive “bail reform” policies that have contributed to spiking crime rates in communities that have implemented them.
The law will work to curb the problem by requiring the implementation of a “uniform statewide bond schedule by the end of the year,” prohibiting any chief judge of a judicial circuit from setting a lower bond than the statewide schedule requires, and toughening pretrial detention requirements.
Another bill, HB 1359, will crack down on the possession, sale, manufacture, and distribution of fentanyl or other controlled substances that are made to look like candy in order to attract children.
Traffickers of such substances will be subject to a minimum sentence of 25 years behind bars with a $1 million penalty. They’ll also be eligible for a life sentence. Those who “possess, sell, or manufacture fentanyl and other controlled substances that resemble candy” will be guilty of a first-degree felony.
HB 1297, meanwhile, is the fulfillment of DeSantis’ earlier promise to significantly increase punishments for convicted pedophiles.
Under the new law, anyone found guilty of raping a child under the age of 12 will be subject to a minimum sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole and could also be eligible for capital punishment. The death penalty can be recommended by eight out of 12 jurors after DeSantis last month signed a separate law dropping the minimum required consensus from a unanimous vote to a two-thirds majority.
“Such crimes destroy the innocence of a young child and violate all standards of decency held by civilized society,” HB 1297 reads. The language of the legislation also takes aim at two court precedents, Buford v. State of Florida (1981) and Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008) which it says were “wrongly decided and an infringement of the states’ power to punish the most heinous of crimes.”
The Supreme Court ruled in Kennedy v. Louisiana that authorizing the death penalty for child rapists violated the eighth amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting “cruel and unusual punishments.” In introducing the bill on the House floor, Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jessica Baker said Florida would be the first state to challenge the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“They relied on their personal opinion to decide what the revolving standards of decency are, and what I’m saying is our evolving standards of decency are that we protect our kids,” Baker said.
In its Monday press release, the governor’s office said DeSantis “is prepared to take this law all the way 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.”
Though DeSantis has not yet stated that he’s running for the U.S. presidency in 2024, he is widely anticipated to announce his candidacy after Florida’s current legislative session wraps up this month.