Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has proposed changing the laws for capital punishment to allow child rapists to be executed and to be able to hand out the death penalty without a unanimous jury.
DeSantis, speaking at the Miami Police Benevolent Association’s winter conference in St. John’s County, pointed to the case of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz, who was spared the death penalty because the jury could not reach a unanimous decision.
The governor explained that he does not believe a rogue juror should override the majority decision.
“One juror should not be able to veto that,” DeSantis said. “I don’t think justice was served in that case. If you’re going to have capital, you have to administer it to the worst of the worst crimes.”
The governor said, in his view, a supermajority jury decision should be sufficient to execute someone.
“Fine, have a supermajority. But you can’t just say one person (can decide against the death penalty). So maybe eight out of 12 have to agree? Or something. But we can’t be in a situation where one person can just derail this,” DeSantis said.
Cruz killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.
“If you will never administer the punishment, you just can’t be on the jury. Our law authorizes it. But you’re in a situation where you have 12 jurors, and just one juror vetoes it, then you end up not getting the sentence,” DeSantis said. “And so I think you had an 11 to one decision, where the 11 said he should get capital punishment.”
In Cruz’s case, three jurors voted against doling out the death penalty.
“One said no. And we don’t know what went into that,” DeSantis added, misstating the number. “But I do think there are people who get on these juries who never intend to administer capital punishment.”
DeSantis has consistently stated his belief that Cruz should have been sentenced to death.
WATCH: @GovRonDeSantis slammed the life sentence recommendation for Parkland school shooter.
‘You deserve the death penalty.’ pic.twitter.com/YF3StNJMe1
— Brendon Leslie (@BrendonLeslie) October 13, 2022
Florida Politics noted in their coverage of the statements that “the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2016’s Hurst v. Florida that a simple majority would be insufficient to execute, but it’s clear the supermajority may be considered a compromise by the Governor that could fly with a more conservative court.”
Regarding child rapists, DeSantis said that sexual predators “will do whatever they can to satiate themselves at the expense of very, very vulnerable people.”
“I believe the only appropriate punishment that would be commensurate to that would be capital,” DeSantis asserted.
DeSantis explained that he does not believe that the current Supreme Court would uphold a previous ruling barring the death penalty for rape.
“We understand that it will be challenged, but I think it’s right for us to challenge … a decision that wasn’t well thought out, was very narrowly decided,” DeSantis said.