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Supreme Court Strikes Down Death Penalty for Raping a Child

Posted on: June 25, 2008 at 10:25 a.m.

In Louisiana a law was passed that would allow a judge or jury to sentence an individual convicted of raping a child to the death penalty, however The Supreme Court of the United States struck this law down. This law was passed even though it has been 44 years since someone in America was sentenced to death for a crime other than murder. Child abuse, specifically child molestation and sexual abuse, has come under intense scrutiny from family and victims' rights groups all over the country.

In Massachusetts, for example, the state legislature is attempting to ban probation for child rapists, meaning that these individuals would have to serve time for the crime committed. This is an incredibly controversial topic, as every community wants to protect their children from being harmed by pedophiles, and the idea that a repeat offender would be in the neighborhood boils the blood of most parents.

There are some legitimate challenges however to laws that seek to bring harsh punishments to these criminals. For one, while victims absolutely can and should have rights, the rights of the accused must be protected and accused as well. For another, the term rape may be a bit more challenging to define when it comes to a child. It may seem grotesque to attempt to define something such as child rape, but if it means the difference between sending someone to jail for 15 years and sending them to jail for 2 years, the definition matters quite a bit.

Sexual offenses against children is a highly emotional matter, and this heavy emotion has created laws such as "Megan's Law" which seeks to protect children and punish offenders and repeat offenders. Being placed on the sex offender list is a permanent punishment, and having to register as a sex offender in your neighborhood is not only embarrassing, but can make it impossible to find a place to live in a decent neighborhood.

The rights of the accused in matters such as these never seem to be important, especially when the crimes and/or accusations are so hideous, however justice and a fair trial are the foundations of our criminal justice system.

Tagged as: sex crime accusations







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