Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is calling for reforming the justice system in the Sunshine State following the sentencing of the Parkland school shooter — citing his concerns about the fact that the shooter got a life sentence instead of the death penalty.
During a campaign speech in Coral Springs, Florida, the Republican governor expressed hope about working alongside the Florida legislature in an effort to reform state laws to fix the problem, noting that it too far too long to actually sentence the mass shooter.
“When you have something happen, like this Parkland massacre, you need to hold people accountable, and nobody is being held accountable,” DeSantis said.
“And so I came into office almost a year after it happened,” he added. “First week in office, we removed the sheriff of this county. We then convened a special grand jury that investigated failures not just here but other parts of the country … [and] other parts of the state about different types of school security, and that led to this report, where we then removed the number of the school board members who were derelict.”
“And that’s good, but then you’re sitting there last week and you see, four and a half years after this happened, they do that the penalty phase,” DeSantis continued, noting that at least one juror refused “to budge and refused to authorize the ultimate punishment.”
DeSantis went on to argue that a crime as heinous as the one committed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — where the shooter killed 17 people and injured 17 others — should warrant the death penalty.
“I’m sorry. When you murder 17 people in cold blood, the only appropriate punishment is capital punishment. That should have been a death sentence,” he said, telling the crowd that he plans on working alongside the legislature to reform some of the laws.
“You can’t just have one holdout do that, and who knows what was going on back there, but that was a miscarriage of justice,” DeSantis added. “That did not honor the victims and the families, and all that they went through. And I think we’ll be able to do something legislatively.”
Reemphasizing that the shooter’s sentence was not fair to the victims and their families, the governor pointed out that the amount of time it took to get to the sentencing phase of the justice system is unacceptable.
“This goes on and drags on for this time, and that is not, I think, a way to honor the rights of victims,” DeSantis said.
The governor then stated that he wants the criminal justice system “not to be bending over backward for the criminals but to stand up for victims and victims’ rights.”
“And that’s what we’re gonna do,” DeSantis vowed.
Watch the full campaign event:
This is not the first time the Florida governor expressed his frustration over the Parkland shooter’s sentencing.
“The only appropriate sentence for the massacre of 17 innocent people is the death penalty,” DeSantis wrote in a tweet last week following the announcement that the shooter would be given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The only appropriate sentence for the massacre of 17 innocent people is the death penalty. That the jury had a single holdout refuse to authorize a capital sentence represents a miscarriage of justice.
My prayers are with the Parkland families. pic.twitter.com/f2M0Fw1SLo
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 13, 2022