Wednesday, 16 Apr, 2008 Current Events
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Court to Consider Death Penalty for Child Sexual Abuse

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The Supreme Court is going to weigh the possibility of death penalty for child sexual crimes on Wednesday meeting.

In the US, there are only two cases when child rapists, who did not kill the victim, are on the death row for their crimes.

The court is considering whether executions for child sexual abuse that did not involve murder could be allowed by Constitution. Also the justices will have to decide on several unrelated cases.

Patrick Kennedy, a 43 year-old man who was accused of raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter at their home in the New Orleans is awaiting the court ruling. His lawyer says that death penalty for child rape contradicts the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Several states rejected death penalty for child rape referring to the court's 1977 ruling that death penalty is an excessive punishment even for child sexual abuse without murder.

Organizations that work to prevent sexual abuse also supported the Kennedy's lawyer appeal, saying that death penalty can actually make the situation even worse. In most cases, children were sexually abused by a relative or family friend and knowing that saying about the rape can lead to execution may prevent them from reporting about the case.

In the last 44 years, death penalty was reserved for murders only. In 1977, execution for sexual assault of the adults was excluded. However, the execution for child rape remained unsolved.

In spite of the fact that Louisiana and four other states such as Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas allow executions for child sexual offenders, the death penalty has never been applied in any of the cases.

These states consider toughening penalties for child rapists and insist that death penalty is appropriate for such a severe crime as sexual abuse of the child.

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