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#233449 - 06/25/08 11:20 AM Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty for Child Rape
LN3(SS) Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/20/08
Posts: 486
Loc: MD
By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has struck down a Louisiana law that allows the execution of people convicted of a raping a child.

In a 5-4 vote, the court says the law allowing the death penalty to be imposed in cases of child rape violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

"The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion. His four liberal colleagues joined him, while the four more conservative justices dissented.

There has not been an execution in the United States for a crime that did not also involve the death of the victim in 44 years.

Patrick Kennedy, 43, was sentenced to death for the rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter in Louisiana. He is one of two people in the United States, both in Louisiana, who have been condemned to death for a rape that was not also accompanied by a killing.

The Supreme Court banned executions for rape in 1977 in a case in which the victim was an adult woman.

Forty-five states ban the death penalty for any kind of rape, and the other five states allow it for child rapists. Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas allow executions in such cases if the defendant had previously been convicted of raping a child.

The court struggled over how to apply standards laid out in decisions barring executions for the mentally retarded and people younger than 18 when they committed murder. In those cases, the court cited trends in the states away from capital punishment.

In this case, proponents of the Louisiana law said the trend was toward the death penalty, a point mentioned by Justice Samuel Alito in his dissent.

"The harm that is caused to the victims and to society at large by the worst child rapists is grave," Alito wrote. "It is the judgment of the Louisiana lawmakers and those in an increasing number of other states that these harms justify the death penalty."

But Kennedy said the absence of any executions for rape and the small number of states that allow it demonstrate "there is a national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape."

Kennedy also acknowledged that the decision had to come to terms with "the years of long anguish that must be endured by the victim of child rape."

Still, Kennedy concluded that in cases of crimes against individuals -- as opposed to treason, for example -- "the death penalty should not be expanded to instances where the victim's life was not taken."

The decision does not affect the imposition of the death penalty for other crimes that do not involve murder, including treason and espionage, he said.

"It looks like a smashing victory on all fronts for us," said Denise LeBoeuf, a longtime capital defense attorney from New Orleans.

The girl's mother said, "We don't talk about that" and hung up.

The author of the Louisiana law, former Republican state Rep. Pete Schneider, said even opponents of the death penalty told him they would kill anyone who raped their children. "When are you going to have the courage to stand up for what's right for all of the people -- but especially the children under 12 that have been brutally raped by monsters?" Schneider said, directing his comments to the justices in Wednesday's majority.

The last executions for crimes other than murder took place in 1964, according to a database maintained by the Death Penalty Information Center.

Ronald Wolfe, 34, died in Missouri's gas chamber on May 8, 1964 for rape. James Coburn was electrocuted in Alabama on Sept. 4 of that year for robbery.

Patrick Kennedy was convicted in 2003 of raping his stepdaughter at their home in Harvey, La., outside New Orleans. The girl initially told police she was sorting Girl Scout cookies in the garage when two boys assaulted her.

Police arrested Kennedy a couple of weeks after the March 1998 rape, but more than 20 months passed before the girl identified him as her attacker.

His defense attorney at the time argued that blood testing was inconclusive and that the victim was pressured to change her story.

The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the sentence, saying that "short of first-degree murder, we can think of no other non-homicide crime more deserving" of the death penalty. State Chief Justice Pascal Calogero noted in dissent that the U.S. high court already had made clear that capital punishment could not be imposed without the death of the victim, except possibly for espionage or treason.

A second Louisiana man, Richard Davis was sentenced to death in December for repeatedly raping a 5-year-old girl in Caddo Parish, which includes Shreveport. Local prosecutor Lea Hall told jurors: "Execute this man. Justice has a sword and this sword needs to swing today."

The high court's decision leaves intact Kennedy's conviction, but will lead to a new sentence.

The case is Kennedy v. Louisiana, 07-343.





_________________________
"When we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off, and I will leave no one behind. Dead, or alive, we will all come home together." LTG Hal Moore, Jr., USA (Ret.)

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#233476 - 06/25/08 01:11 PM Re: Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty for Child Rape [Re: LN3(SS)]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
Here's an article from the NY Times on the same subject:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/26/washington/26scotuscnd.html?hp

I'm assuming that "rape" in this sense requires penetration, but we all know that sexual abuse can be just as harmful and devastating without penetration. Applying capital punishment only for "rape" is unfair to those victims who were not penetrated. Is the pain and damage endured by a child who subjected to fondling, groping, psychologican abuse and humiliation and forced to perform manual or oral acts less than that of a child who was penetrated? If one is going to argue that the seriousness of the crime warrants execution then the law is imbalanced should apply capital punishment to ALL cases of CSA.

However, I'm not a fan of capital punishment. The taking of life is a serious business and I think it is only justified when the person being killed poses an immediate and definite risk to the lives of others. Capital punishment does not work as a deterrent nor as a form of social vengence. The only criminals I think should even be considered for such punishment are psychopathic killers who can never be trusted, even in prison, not to be a mortal danger to others.

Death is too good for scum who rape children. They should be locked away for the rest of their lives.

_________________________
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde

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#234971 - 07/01/08 04:02 PM Re: Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty for Child Rape [Re: VLinvictus]
BJK Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/02/07
Posts: 1526
We must also examine the problems we have with disclosure. If the vast majority of CSA cases involve close friends and family of the victim, putting that close friend or family member to death provides a serious deterrent to disclosure, and getting a child who has endured abuse help is the most important thing to think about.

_________________________
Revenge is nothing more than another way of perpetuating abuse.

What the world needs now
Is some new words of wisdom
Like la la la la la la la la la.
-David Lowery

Having a friend who will keep a secret for you is worthless compared to a friend who won't keep a secret from you.

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