Turn to someone near you, ask the question, "does someone deserve the death penalty for a non-homicide crime?" Now ask it this way: Should someone be sentenced to die for raping a young child?
It's a question before the U.S. Supreme Court, involving a Louisiana case. It's been going on 50 years since anyone was executed in this country for a crime other than murder.
Patrick Kennedy was convicted of raping his eight-year-old stepdaughter in 1998. Kennedy is 6'4" and a mammoth 300 pounds. If Kennedy would have committed the heinous crime in any other state, he would have faced a maximum of a life behind bars.
But in 1995, Louisiana became the first state to impose the punishment of death for child rape. (Incidentally, the state lawmaker who drafted the legislation is David Vitter. Now a U.S. Senator he has his own problems after being linked to the D.C. Madam and didnt return our calls)
Kennedy's attorneys say the death sentence for child rape is the definition for cruel and unusual punishment. The Louisiana Foundation against Sexual Assaults, a victims rights organization has weighed in. The group doesn't want Kennedy executed. Its rationale? If child rapists know they face the death penalty why not just go ahead and kill the child. Chilling stuff.
Five other states have followed Louisiana and now have the death penalty for child rape. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are closely watching what the high court will decide. Perhaps you want to know what happened to that eight-year-old girl. Her family wants Kennedy to die. The girl is now in college and wants to be a lawyer.
Rape robs a child of innocence. Depending on what the high court does, criminals may pay the ultimate price for an unspeakable crime.
Filed under: Crime & Punishment
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