Submit ZIP Code

Got a Quick Question?

(120 characters remaining)
100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Many States Deciding If Child Rapists Deserve To Die

By: Gerri L. Elder

Colorado could become the seventh state to allow child rapists to be sentenced to death, unless Texas beats them to it. A bill in Colorado has recently been approved by the state Senate committee and is headed to the state Senate for debate.

The original bill would have allowed prosecutors to seek the death penalty against defendants who are accused of raping a child 12 years of age or younger in cases where there is DNA evidence. It was estimated that under that draft, 260 people a year would be eligible for the death penalty. The bill has since been amended to include the provision that the death penalty can only be sought against child rapists who have previously been convicted of a sex offense against a child.

Although the death penalty may be sought against child rapists in other states already, opponents of the bill, including some criminal defense attorneys, say that it may violate the 8th Amendment of the Constitution. Victims’ rights advocates also say that it could be a deterrent for victims to report child rapes when the offender is a relative.

The Denver Post reports that Colorado Senator Steve Ward sponsored the bill and believes that the offenders that commit the most heinous sex crimes against children do not deserve to live. Public defenders in Colorado disagree with Ward and oppose the bill.

In Louisiana, prosecutors are allowed by law to seek the death penalty against child rapists. The first sex offender in the United States to receive a death sentence was a Louisiana man who raped his 8-year-old stepdaughter as she was sorting Girl Scout cookies and then bragged that he had made her a woman. Patrick Kennedy, 42, is the only person on death row in the United States for a non-homicide rape. He was convicted of aggravated rape in 2003 and sentenced to die. On May 22, 2007, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld Kennedy’s death sentence.

South Carolina and Oklahoma passed laws in 2006 allowing prosecutors to seek the death penalty against sex offenders who repeatedly rape children. Georgia allows the death penalty for rape. Florida and Montana also have passed laws allowing the death penalty for rapists, however authorities in those states have said that it would only be sought against child rapists.

Texas is considering a version of “Jessica’s Law” that reserves the death penalty for people who rape children under age 6 at least twice, or children younger than 14 if the crime also involves the use of a deadly weapon, alcohol or drugs, death threats, bodily injury, kidnapping or gang rape. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to sign the bill into law. Alabama, Missouri and Mississippi are also considering bills that would allow the death for child rapists.

That makes 11 states that have passed or will try to pass laws to allow the death penalty to be imposed on child rapists. The murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford has prompted many states to consider versions of “Jessica’s Law” to provide children with greater protection from child predators.

The U.S. Supreme court will decide later this year if the execution of child rapists is unconstitutional. A decision is expected by June as to whether or not the death penalty for people who have not committed murder is cruel and unusual punishment.


Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is not legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or should be formed by use of the site. The attorney listings on the site are paid attorney advertisements. Your access of/to and use of this site is subject to additional Supplemental Terms.