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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Louisiana Supreme Court Upholds Death Penalty for Rapist

From NYTimes.com: The Louisiana Supreme Court yesterday upheld the death sentence of a man convicted of raping an 8-year-old girl. Legal experts say the man, Patrick Kennedy, is the only inmate on death row in the United States who was not convicted of committing or participating in a killing.

“Looming over this case,” Justice Jeffrey P. Victory wrote for the majority in the 6-to-1 decision, “is the potential for the defendant to be the first person executed for committing an aggravated rape in which the victim survived” since the enactment of a 1995 state law that allows capital punishment for the rape of a child under 12.

In 1977, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty could not be imposed for the rape of an adult woman. The justices said the penalty would be disproportionate to the crime and was therefore forbidden as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. But they left open the question of whether child rapists might be sentenced to death.

There has not been an execution for rape in the United States since 1964, and no one has been executed for a crime that did not involve a killing since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Before the Supreme Court suspended the death penalty in 1972, 16 states and the federal government authorized it for rape. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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