CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, June 26, 2008

High Court: No Death Penalty for Child Rape

In a closely divided opinion today, the Supreme Court found that while the crime of raping a child is a "revulsion" to society, it does not merit the death penalty.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for a 5-4 majority, found that "a death sentence for one who raped but did not kill a child, and who did not intend to assist another in killing the child, is unconstitutional."

Louisiana and five other states have laws imposing the death penalty for that crime. The ruling today overturned those laws.

The decision and a fiery dissent from the conservative justices explored the controversial moral questions society must face in addressing the topic of child rape.

Kennedy acknowledged as much, writing that such a crime "cannot be recounted in these pages in a way sufficient to capture in full the hurt and horror inflicted on the victim."

"We cannot dismiss the years of long anguish that must be endured by the victim of child rape," he wrote. But he said that capital punishment is not a "proportionate" penalty for the crime. [Mark Godsey]

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Here is my response from April 19, 2008 in regard to this case.

"I have a problem with the state, that is IMPERFECT as it is and the system of so-called justice we have, yet IMPERFECT in many ways, imparting "justice" through the use of death penalty when there isn't evidence that can be used to convict the person without a doubt.

IF the death penalty is to be allowed for serial rapists or recidivist sex offenders, then we should make it clear that ALL executions should be carried out or the penalty imposed AFTER DNA and ONLY DNA testing can provide proof that the alleged offender INDEED committed the crime beyond reasonable doubt. Anything less continues to make our system of justice corrupt and imperfect."

Posted by: Ange | Jun 27, 2008 5:40:06 PM

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