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May 31, 2007

Analysis of capital child rape laws

At FindLaw, Professor Marci Hamilton has this new commentary discussing new laws making child rape a capital offense. Here is how it begins:

Last week, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the death penalty as applied to a child abuser.  Louisiana has led the way in passing laws to execute pedophiles. However, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia, and Montana also have passed such laws, with Texas soon to follow when Gov. Rick Perry signs such legislation.

A major impetus for the death penalty in child sex cases is the heinous crime by a previously-convicted sex offender against Florida nine-year old Jessica Lunsford, who suffered horrific abuse, including burial alive in a shallow grave, where she eventually suffocated.  If there is a way to measure the temperature of public opinion against child abuse, this is it, and it bodes well for children, even if it is not the most effective way of protecting children.

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May 31, 2007 at 07:45 AM | Permalink

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» Capital Cases for Child Rape from Crime and Consequences
Professor Berman has this post regarding Louisiana's Supreme Court recent affirmance of the death penalty for defendants convicted of child rape (Louisiana v. Kennedy, No. 05-KA-1981 (La. May 22, 2007)). There's lots of good debate about the constituti... [Read More]

Tracked on May 31, 2007 8:28:11 AM

» Two Views on Death Penalty for Child Rape from Sex Crimes
At Crime Consequences, Steven Erickson posts about the dangers of letting media sensationalized sex panic drive crime policy:There's lots of good debate about the constitutionality of the death penalty for sex crimes, but there's another aspect worth c... [Read More]

Tracked on May 31, 2007 4:31:38 PM

Comments

"If there is a way to measure the temperature of public opinion against child abuse, this is it, and it bodes well for children, even if it is not the most effective way of protecting children."

Only if one permits the public to continue viewing child abuse through a most narrow lens. ABout 1500 children die at the hands of their caregivers every year. When was the last time the public expressed shock, signed petitions, organized cross-county trips, or demanded the government intervene to stop it? When was the last time it crossed anyone's mind? Continuing to focus on sex abuse alone, catering to public outrage alone, doesn't at all "bode will" for children.

Elsewhere in her article, Prof. Hamilton states the law would have little effect on underreporting because so few cases are reported anyway. Well, reports of child sex abuse are down by almost half since 1990. Either incidents are truly down, or underreporting has increased immensely. Might it not be a better strategy--if we truly care about children still being abused--to find ways to encourage them to come forward rather than give them another reason not to?

Posted by: Ilah | May 31, 2007 9:30:13 AM

"If there is a way to measure the temperature of public opinion against child abuse, this is it, and it bodes well for children, even if it is not the most effective way of protecting children."

What a bunch of baloney!

I guess people in Minnesota, New York, and Hawaii just don't care about children. Whatever, this "Professor" can publish her books on "How to Deliver Us From Evil" -- I'm not buying.

Posted by: rothmatisseko | May 31, 2007 3:06:38 PM

Hamilton's argument rests on this premise: "Because of the Supreme Court's unfortunate 5-4 decision in Stogner v. California, no legislature can abolish the criminal statutes of limitations retroactively."

Translation: the Constitution is unfortunate.

Is the real goal the protection of children? As Ilah points out, there are good reasons to question that motive. Far, far more children per year are killed through physical abuse than during sex crimes, and Hamilton fails to address the possible risk of a rise in the murder rate of children.

But more important, Hamilton ignores the most obvious solution: the empowerment of children to come forward if not immediately, at least within the current statute of limitations. As I proposed before, educating children on DNA and "crime scene investigation" would empower children and give them the confidence and insight to come forward. They could learn that no lie or manipulation can overpower science. This science class coupled with "good touch, bad touch" education, and perhaps more beneficial if only because it would apply to far more children, "good beating, bad beating" education, would provide children with what they need to come forward. An empowered child is a less vulnerable child, so it might also serve as a more powerful deterrent than the fear of incarceration.

But I often suspect the focus on only sex crimes is because too many parents have reason to fear a child's "good beating, bad beating" education.

Posted by: George | May 31, 2007 3:25:13 PM

As I proposed before, educating children on DNA and "crime scene investigation" would empower children and give them the confidence and insight to come forward. They could learn that no lie or manipulation can overpower science. This science class coupled with "good touch, bad touch" education, and perhaps more beneficial if only because it would apply to far more children, "good beating, bad beating" education, would provide children with what they need to come forward. An empowered child is a less vulnerable child, so it might also serve as a more powerful deterrent than the fear of incarceration.

this is either a joke, or the most incoherent blog comment I've seen on this site. my solution is to have a bunch of ninjas with lasers find child molesters and sterilize and lobotomize them silently. because they're ninjas, they'd never get caught or sued.

Posted by: armchair QB | May 31, 2007 5:46:05 PM

Maybe it's incoherent or more likely you need a remedial reading class.

Ninja this.

Posted by: George | May 31, 2007 5:53:37 PM

my son was molested by one of my brothers. the police had no proof i had to listen to my brother confess to me how he moletsted my son. i taped it and he went to prison for 6 years.my son was 5 at the time of the many avents. i put him in a hospital to get a med evailuation done. he was there 2 days and was molested by another child in the hospital. ive tried to sue but its ben realy hard hes 12 now and has ben hospitalized for the past 2 years do to his behavior any and all sapport is well appriciated please call if you want 513-225-7495 my name is john

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