Ron DeSantis Signs Anti-Crime Legislation in the Sunshine State, Reforms Death Penalty

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the 2023 Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in East Pe
Mark Pynes/The Patriot-News via AP

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday signed anti-crime legislation in the Sunshine State, designed to build upon the policies that led to the state’s 50-year record low crime rate.

The bill itself builds upon past legislation by, in part, putting in place additional penalties for fentanyl and drug-related crimes and reforming the state’s death penalty statute. DeSantis teased the latter move earlier this year, expressing a desire to reform the death penalty statute by eliminating the need for a unanimous jury decision.

During the press conference, DeSantis said Florida looked at other states that are struggling with crime and decided to take action on the factors that are contributing to that. One of those factors, he said, is the end of cash bail.

“One of the worst things that they’ve done in places like New York and in Illinois …. they’ve done things like eliminate cash bail,” he said during the press conference:

So what that means is you’ll have somebody commit a criminal offense, they’ll come in to face charges, and then they automatically get released back on the street without having to post any type of bond. And so what you’ll end up happening is those people before they’re even brought to trial on their current crimes, they then commit more crimes. So there’s more people that are victimized.

All such efforts to eliminate cash bail are “dead on arrival” in the Sunshine State, he said, but his administration is also doing more to “fortify [that] because what happens is, you can have passed bail like we do, you can have some judges who are more soft on crime, they can release people unnecessarily.”

“And even though our rates are too low, when you do see criminals, a lot of times they’ll have a rap sheet. A lot of times they do get released, and so there’s still work needs to be done. So we believe there should be a uniform bond schedule for the whole state,” he said, emphasizing that one judge should “not be able to just simply say everybody gets to be let out.”

“So what this legislation is doing is it’s having the Florida Supreme Court establish a uniform statewide bond schedule by the end of this year. So that is going to I think prevents some very pro-criminal judges from releasing people back on the street,” he said.

The legislation also makes it clear that Florida stands for the protection of children, seeking to punish child sex offenders accordingly.

“We really believe that part of just society is to have appropriate punishment and so if you commit a crime that is really, really heinous, you should have the ultimate punishment. And so what this bill does, is it challenges the U.S. Supreme Court for recently deciding — probably six or seven years ago, they decided by five to four, after over 200 years of our Constitution being in place — that somehow you could never have capital punishment for crimes like rape,” he said, noting that these crimes are the “worst of the worst.”

“Even though you can have serial offenders who have violated multiple children under the age of 12. And so we think that that decision was wrong. We think that in the worst of the worst cases, the only appropriate punishment is the ultimate punishment,” he said, explaining that the bill sets up a procedure to challenge the precedent.

“We think that the worst of the worst crimes deserve the worst of the worst punishment, and I think that that’s the only thing that’s appropriate,” DeSantis said to applause. 

DeSantis also mentioned legislation to address the fentanyl crisis further, noting that “we have enough fentanyl being brought into our country to kill the entire American population.”

According to the governor’s office the legislation addresses the fentanyl crisis “by imposing additional penalties on fentanyl and other drug-related crimes when the drug’s appearance resembles a piece of candy, including making it a first degree felony to possess, sell, or manufacture fentanyl and other controlled substances that resemble candy and adding a mandatory life sentence and $1 million penalty for trafficking such substances that target children.”


Additionally, Governor DeSantis is allocating $20 million in local support funding for law enforcement agencies to increase efforts to interdict and apprehend the illicit sale and trafficking of fentanyl. This builds upon last year’s increase in fentanyl trafficking mandatory minimums and will protect vulnerable children who might be deceived by what has been dubbed “rainbow fentanyl.”

WATCH the press conference below:


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