Florida lawmakers appear poised to pass legislation allowing the death penalty for pedophiles.
If passed, pedophiles could be sent to death if they commit sexual battery on a child under age 12.
According to a report from CBS News, “the House is scheduled Thursday to take up its version of the bill (HB 1297), while the Senate version (SB 1342) was approved Tuesday by the Rules Committee, positioning it to go to the full Senate.”
The Supreme Court has previously ruled that imposing capital punishment in rape cases is unconstitutional, but that may change with the new justices.
There has not been an execution for a crime that did not include murder in the United States since 1964.
After the bill passed the Rules Committee, Senate bill sponsor Jonathan Martin, a former prosecutor, said, “if an individual rapes an 11-year-old, a 10-year-old, a 2-year-old or a 5-year-old, they should be subject to the death penalty.”
Aaron Wayt, who represented the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers at the meeting, defended pedophiles against the death penalty under the guise of caring about victims.
“This bill invites a longer, costlier (legal) process for the victim and their family that they will endure,” Wayt said, according to the CBS report. “While this crime, anyone convicted of it is vile, heinous, the Constitution itself, the case law, the Supreme Court demands a maximum of life in prison. And so while it’s not the vengeance we all want, it’s the justice that the Constitution demands.”
Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, a Democrat and victim of child sex abuse, appeared to support the bill.
“This is a life sentence that is handed down to young children,” Book said. “We’re talking about the youngest of the young in this bill. I was one of those kids. I still to this day at … 38 years old deal with the very, very real lasting effects of this crime. It never goes away. Sometimes you close your eyes and you see it. I don’t get a chance to make it stop.”
The CBS report explains, “Under the bills, defendants could receive death sentences based on the recommendations of at least eight of 12 jurors. Judges would have discretion to impose the death penalty or sentence defendants to life in prison. If fewer than eight jurors recommend death, defendants would receive life sentences.”
“Currently, unanimous jury recommendations are required before judges can impose the death penalty in murder cases. But lawmakers also are poised to change that requirement to allow death sentences after recommendations from eight of 12 jurors. The Senate has already passed such a change, and the House will take it up Thursday.”