Florida In defiance of a decision by the US Supreme Court, Governor Ron DeSantis has reportedly signed a bill into law that makes child rape punishable by the death sentence.
According to Florida law, a defendant is eligible for the death penalty if a jury unanimously determines that the offense had two or more aggravating elements.
The legislation outlines certain aggravating circumstances, such as if the assault was particularly brutal, terrible, or cruel.
For the death penalty to be imposed, the jury must unanimously establish at least two aggravating circumstances without any mitigating ones.
The Florida legislature overwhelmingly supported the bill on a bipartisan basis. After receiving a 95-14 vote in favor in the House, it was adopted by the Senate (34-5).
On Monday, DeSantis also approved two additional legislation, both of which dealt with the criminal justice system.
There is House Bill 1359, which stiffens the fines for fentanyl-related crimes.
House Bill 1627 also adds DUI manslaughter, fentanyl trafficking, extortion, and written threats to murder to the list of severe felonies qualifying for pretrial imprisonment.
It also mandates that the Florida Supreme Court create a standard statewide bail schedule.
In a 5-4 decision in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court barred states from using the death sentence in cases of child rape that do not result in the death of the victim.
According to the court, imposing the death penalty under these circumstances would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
DeSantis acknowledged that by signing the legislation, a Supreme Court ruling is being challenged.