They're coming around!
Rape a child, pay with your life, Louisiana argues
Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday
By Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer
ANGOLA, Louisiana (CNN) -- He is not a killer, but the state of Louisiana is determined to execute Patrick Kennedy for his crime.
Patrick Kennedy, 43, is on Louisiana's death row for the rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter.
The New Orleans native faces that reality as he sits on death row at Louisiana's maximum security prison, the largest prison in the nation. The Louisiana State Penitentiary, or Angola Prison, is the size of Manhattan and surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River.
Unlike the 3,300 inmates awaiting execution nationwide -- including the 94 other men at Angola -- Kennedy, 43, is a convicted rapist. The victim was his 8-year-old stepdaughter.
For the first time in 44 years, a state is preparing to execute a man for a felony other than murder. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday on whether Louisiana can use capital punishment in child rape cases.
The constitutional question before the justices is whether the death penalty for violent crimes other than homicide constitutes "cruel and unusual" punishment. The high-profile examination of the death penalty also raises anew a national debate over selective prosecution and race.
"A lot of people think there should not be the death penalty [in this case] because the child survives," said Kate Bartholomew, a sex crimes prosecutor in New Orleans. "In my opinion the rape of a child is more heinous and more hideous than a homicide."
Kennedy's appellate attorney, Billy Sothern, argues, "When we look at what it means to be cruel and unusual, this is exactly the kind of thing that raises these serious concerns of the constitutionality of Mr. Kennedy's death sentence."
Kennedy was sentenced to die in 2003 for sexually assaulting his stepdaughter in her bed. The crime occurred in a quiet neighborhood in Harvey, across the big river from New Orleans. Besides severe emotional trauma, Louisiana prosecutors said the attack caused internal injuries and bleeding to the child, requiring extensive surgery.
Full article (worth the read)
A couple of interesting questions:
1.) The last execution for a non-murder offense in LA was in 1964 and, although five other states have laws similar to LAs in this respect, there may be a compelling constitutional argument against killing those who haven't killed. Where do you stand?
2.) If child rapists now know that their crime may earn them the death penalty, they may be less inclined to leave their victim alive. If this is true, is the trade worth it? An increase in child murders for the ability to kill child rapists?