JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A number of new laws are now in effect, as of Sunday. Arguably the most controversial centers around changes to Florida’s death penalty. Child rapists can now face execution for their crimes.
The law specifically pertains to child victims under the age of 12. Higher courts have already said imposing death sentences in these types of cases is a violation of the 8th Amendment. While some say the law is still a measure of protecting children, others say different.
Florida courts now have a green light to send child rapists to death row. It was a measure that received bipartisan support as it rose through Tallahassee.
Upon signing it into law, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said: “These are really the worst of the worst. The perpetrators of these crimes are often serial offenders.”
Maria DeLiberato is the executive director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. She does not disagree.
“Of course, Child sexual battery is one of the most horrific crimes that one can think of,” said Mario DeLiberato, Executive Director, Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
DeLiberato, an attorney herself, explains even though the law is now technically in effect in Florida, the Supreme Court would first have to reverse its initial ruling for it to apply to a particular case.
“The legislature, to their credit, acknowledged that when they passed it right, they said, ‘we know this isn’t the law, we just hope the law will get change,’ said DeLiberato.
DeLiberato says the trauma doesn’t end there for the victim.
“You’re also dealing with a living victim who would have to be a part of the inevitable decades-long death penalty process. A death penalty case is not quick. It doesn’t go away quickly. It languishes for years and years and years,” said DeLiberato.
DeLiberato also points to alarming statistics. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
About 90 percent of child sex abuse victims know their abuser and about 30 percent of children are abused by family members.
“So now, you’ve got this whole dynamic where a child is going to bear the weight of a possible death sentence to a neighbor, an uncle, grandfather, something that someone that they know that everybody in their family is not going to feel the exact same way about,” said DeLiberato.
This new law would still require an 8 to 4 jury recommendation for a death sentence.