Full House nears vote on child rapist execution bill

electric chair
Legislation challenges judicial precedent saying no capital punishment in these cases.

A House bill that would lead to capital punishment for capital sexual battery on minors is ready for the floor.

HB 1297, a bill from Rep. Jessica Baker allowing for execution of child rapists without jury unanimity, a change clearly unconstitutional under current Supreme Court precedent, cleared the House Judiciary Committee by a 16-7 vote. That was its second and final committee stop.

Baker said the measure sought to address “one of the most heinous and vile acts imaginable, that of sexual battery on a young child. A crime so monstrous and horrific that there can be no tolerance for the perpetrators in civilized society.”

Baker’s bill contravenes cases Buford v. State of Florida and Kennedy v. Louisiana. In those two cases — Buford at the state level and Kennedy at the federal level — judges ruled against execution for sexual assault of children.

Asked if the bill overstepped legislative bounds and threatened separation of powers, Baker said “15 years of improperly decided case law is not persuasive to me.” She dismissed concerns about the measure’s constitutionality, saying SCOTUS “is not bound by previous rulings.”

Aggravating factors would have to be in place to facilitate these executions, including a history of rape or sexual predation, the use of a firearm, financial gain, a “heinous, atrocious, or cruel” act, victim vulnerability, or the assailant holding a custodial position.

Two of these factors would suffice to impose the ultimate penalty, but all jurors would have to agree on the aggravators, per an amendment adopted Friday in Judiciary that lines the bill up with the Senate product.

Mitigating factors include the assailant having acted under duress or extreme mental or emotional disturbance.

Anyone sentenced to death under this proposed measure would have the recourse of federal appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and if the High Court holds that the new law is unconstitutional, the sentence would revert to life imprisonment.

This bill comes as the Senate has approved legislation allowing for supermajority verdicts in other death penalty cases, and this House committee approved companion legislation (HB 555) Friday. The Senate version of Baker’s bill (SB 1342), filed by Sen. Jonathan Martin, is still working through committees.

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops and Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty expressed opposition to the bill expanding capital punishment.

This genre of legislation seems to be a legislative response to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has floated supermajority capital punishment jury verdicts, using the atrocities perpetrated by the Parkland shooter as an illustrative example.

The former student killed 17 people with an AR-15 on Valentine’s Day 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in one of the most infamous school shootings in American history.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Bwj

    March 31, 2023 at 12:33 pm

    The death penalty is not about justice. It is about revenge. The possibility of this bill passing will likely to be challenged to SCOTUS. Adjudication of this crime could lead to prosecutor’s abuse and expansion of the definition of rape.

  • Mercury Ed

    March 31, 2023 at 1:13 pm

    By 2063, there will be the death penalty for any felony that they please due to “aggravating circumstances.” It will be like Ancient Rome in Florida. This will cause human flight. I say put conservatives in the chair before they cause human flight.. which the right wing is already causing in other ways and in other places in the USA.

  • Donald Dillbeck's Ghost

    March 31, 2023 at 1:30 pm

    Ashley Moody sat on my face when I was a kid. I passed out. Give her the chair.🪑⚡

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    April 1, 2023 at 8:31 am

    There you go again, Far left 🤪. Keep on making my point. 🤣

    • Bwj

      April 2, 2023 at 10:48 am

      How so?

  • wook

    April 1, 2023 at 6:31 pm

    Title it the Epstein Act?

Comments are closed.


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