Critics say Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is speeding up executions in the state as a presidential campaign move, USA Today reports. DeSantis is set to execute a fifth man in six months, and he signed two pieces of legislation related to the death penalty. One bill allows the state to seek capital punishment in non-murder cases of sexual battery involving kids under the age of 12, and the bill allows for the death penalty without a unanimous jury decision. The governor had previously approved two executions in his four years in office.
In Florida, the average period that someone is on death row before being executed is almost 23 years. The men executed in Florida this year were each on death row for decades. Florida is one of the nation's highest users of capital punishment among 23 other states where the death penalty is active. A DeSantis spokesperson said the governor is speeding up executions because of COVID-19 and state emergency-related delays. Maria DeLiberato of the group Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty challenged the office's claim about the connection to COVID, adding that the timing of resumptions at "an alarming rate" aligns with the 2024 election and soon after a jury recommended prison for life for Nikolas Cruz, the shooter in the 2018 school massacre in Parkland, Fla.