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Florida lawmakers push for death penalty in child rape cases

Experts argue the bill is likely unconstitutional.
death penalty
Posted at 4:41 PM, Apr 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-12 19:09:46-04

Legislation that would expand the death penalty in Florida is pushing through the state legislature.

Tuesday, a bill that would make the rape of a child under the age of 12 eligible for death row cleared the Senate rules committee.

Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, herself a survivor of child sexual assault, gave a passionate speech during the committee hearing about her daily struggle with the trauma she faced decades ago.

“There is no statute of limitations that a victim suffers. This is a life sentence that is handed down to young children. We’re talking about the youngest of the young in this bill. I was one of those kids,” said Book.

Florida lawmakers push for death penalty in child rape cases

The bill cleared the rules committee by unanimous vote.
It now heads to the full Senate.

“I too was a victim of child sexual battery,” said Aaron Wayt with the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers who spoke out against the bill.

“Courtrooms must be a place for justice and not vengeance.”

If the bill were to pass, it would surely trigger a court case.
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that states could not impose the death penalty for the rape of a child, when the crime did not involve a homicide.

“This law, if it passes, will have to be found unconstitutional by our own Florida supreme court, whether they want to or not,” said Maria DeLiberato, Executive Director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

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