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DeSantis, Trump, Pence Compete To Appear Tougher On Crime

Ahead of a likely presidential bid, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is adopting a reliable campaign message: I’m tough on crime. At the Republican governor’s urging, Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature last week repealed a law that requires a unanimous jury verdict to sentence a defendant to death, a response to outrage over jurors who blocked the death penalty for convicted Parkland school killer Nikolas Cruz. State legislators will allow the death penalty to be imposed on someone convicted of raping a child despite a narrowly-decided U.S. Supreme Court decision from 2008 that found such punishments unconstitutional, Politico reports. The death penalty measures are among a series criminal justice bills that DeSantis has called for. He sharply criticized the Parkland jury decision that resulted in Cruz getting a life sentence. In appearances to promote his book, he lashed out at blue states and “soft-on-crime” prosecutors operating in around the U.S.

“We are holding people accountable,” DeSantis told Republicans last week at a Lincoln Day breakfast in Akron, Ohio. “We reject soft-on-crime polices like eliminating cash bail or jailbreak legislation that lets dangerous criminals out of jail before they have finished their sentence. We see the plague across the country of left-wing district attorneys getting elected.” Republicans with an eye toward running for president see fighting crime as a good issue for them, after the message resonated with voters in the midterms. Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday called for mass shooters to be executed within months. DeSantis’ record on criminal justice has been criticized by allies of former President Trump. They cited his signing a bill in 2019 that raised the amount that must be stolen for someone to be charged with a felony. The Make America Great Again PAC says that “while President Trump is the only presidential candidate calling for the death penalty for drug dealers, DeSantis is giving a pass to thieves.”

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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