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March 14, 2008

Louisiana's brief in Kennedy arguing for capital child rape

Thanks to Sex Crimes, I now see that Louisiana's merits brief in the Kennedy SCOTUS capital child rape is now available at this link.  Here are excerpts from the brief's "summary of argument":

The death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment for the rape of a child.  It is evident that societal awareness of the prevalence of child sexual abuse has increased tremendously in the last few decades.  Moreover, public outrage over the sexual violation of immature young children by predatory adults is extremely great due to the recognition that these offenders target and harm the most vulnerable members of our society.

While this Court in Coker found that the death penalty was excessive for the rape of an adult woman, it has not found the death penalty to be excessive for all non-homicide crimes, or for all rapes.  Objective indicia reflect that there is currently a significant trend to provide the death penalty as punishment for at least some rapes where the victim is a child. Seven states have legislation providing the death penalty for child rape, and of those States, only Florida’s statute has been invalidated by its state supreme court.  Three other states are presently considering legislation which would authorize the death penalty as punishment for the rape of a child committed under certain circumstances.  Additionally relevant to a determination of societal consensus with regard to authorizing the death penalty for this non-homicide offense, are the fifteen capital jurisdictions (including the federal government) that authorize the death penalty for a variety of non-homicide offenses, and the recent widespread enactment of “Megan’s Laws,” which require sex offenders to register and provide notification to the community.  Juries have returned death sentences in two of the five cases in Louisiana in which it is known that the issue was submitted to a jury. In other states, the laws are so recently enacted that the fact that no one has yet been capitally convicted in those states does not demonstrate that juries are unwilling to impose the death penalty for the rape of a child.  Therefore, objective indicia confirm that a current trend strongly supports imposition of the death penalty for this exceedingly grave offense. The State respectfully submits that legislative consideration of this issue should not be prematurely foreclosed.

Some related posts on the Kennedy case and capital child rape legislation:

March 14, 2008 at 10:03 AM | Permalink

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