On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that will allow for the death penalty in cases of child rape, sparking a potential Supreme Court challenge. The new law, which will come into effect on October 1st, specifies that sexual battery of a person under the age of 12 is a capital crime.
DeSantis, who is expected to jump into the 2024 race for the White House, defended the new law and stated that “in the worst of the worst cases, the only appropriate punishment is the ultimate punishment.”
In Florida, we believe it’s only appropriate that the worst of the worst crimes deserve the worst of the worst punishment. pic.twitter.com/pOg4UYe92m
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 1, 2023
The bill goes against a 2008 Supreme Court decision which prevented states from imposing the death penalty for child rape if the victim wasn’t killed.
DeSantis indicated that he is prepared to challenge this precedent in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that it unjustly shields child rapists from the death penalty.
Critics of the law have argued that making child sexual abuse a capital punishment would discourage victims from reporting their abusers and increase the incentive for child rapists to murder their victims.