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article imageUS Plans to Execute Pedophiles Gaining Momentum

By Carolyn E. Price     May 28, 2007 in Crime
The idea of executing child rapists, even when no one has lost their life, is making headway across the United States of America. The governor of Texas is set to sign into law legislation that will allow the death sentence to be applied to pedophiles.
In 1995, the state of Louisiana was the first one to adopt legislation that authorizes the courts to give the death penalty to people convicted of raping a child. Last week, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for a pedophile.
In 2003, 42-year-old Patrick Kennedy was sentenced to death in Louisiana for raping his companion's eight-year-old daughter. Kennedy is the only man among more than 3300 prisoners currently on death row in the US who is schedule to die under this new law.
The last time the US Supreme Court dealt with pedophiles and the death penalty was in 1977 when they invalidated the death sentence of a rapist. They argued at the time that the punishment was disproportionate to the crime. The court has also rejected giving the death penalty to criminals who were minors or were mentally retarded at the time they committed their crimes, evoking "evolving standards of decency" as their reasoning.
However, last week, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the death penalty for Kennedy. The court argued Given the appalling nature of the crime, the severity of the harm inflicted upon the victim, and the harm imposed on society, the death penalty is not an excessive penalty for the crime of rape when the victim is a child under the age of 12 years old.The US Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Kennedy case next year.
In 2005, the movement to allow convicted pedophiles to be put to death really started gaining ground after nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford was raped and buried alive in Florida by a man with a prior conviction for sex crimes.
Differing versions of what has become knows as "Jessica Law'' have sprung up all over in the country. In most cases, the laws are imposing a minimum sentence of 25-years in jail and the wearing of an ankle bracelet for life for raping a child aged 12 or younger.
However, in Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia and Montana, elected officials have added the possibility of the death sentence to their versions of the "Jessica Law". And, the governor of Texas is set to sign into law legislation that will allow the death sentence to be applied to pedophiles.An overwhelming majority of politicians in Texas chose to join the list. Texas is responsible for a third of all executions carried out in the United States in the past 30 years and for two-thirds of those conducted so far this year. The draft law is now on the desk of Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has promised to sign it.Organisations who defend the rights of crime victims have differing views on the proposals.
Karen Rugaard is a spokeswoman for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault:We are very concerned that this may reduce reporting of sexual assault, since most child abuse is made by someone close to the child. It is already difficult to report about a father, an uncle, a family friend ... It will be worse when the child knows they can spend a very long time in jail or be sentenced to death.Ms Rugaard also expressed regret that Texas' draft law does not call for any preventative measures: We are worried that legislators did nothing to help prevent the violence.The biggest uncertainty regarding sentencing a "non-murderer" to death is that any law doing it would not comply the the US constitutional mandate that bars "cruel and unusual'' punishment.
Oh yes, the violation and sexual assault of a child is not considered to be "cruel and unusual" punishment?
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