Death sentence for child rapists?
Filed under: In The News
For the first time in 44 years, the state of Louisiana is preparing to execute someone for a felony other than murder. Starting today, the U.S. Supreme Court will be listening to arguments that will determine if child rapists can receive capital punishment.
As a parent, it seems like a no-brainer. Of course the monsters who sexually assault children deserve to die! But as in most things, when exploring the realities of what it would entail, it is not as easy or clear cut a solution as it first appears.
For one thing, if rapists face the death penalty, why should they risk leaving a witness? Killing a child to keep them from talking might be their best hope for getting away with the crime.
Also, children are highly suggestible. In the current Louisiana case, a stepfather is accused of raping his nine-year-old stepdaughter. There is no DNA evidence linking him to the crime and the girl originally said two boys had attacked her. Her story only changed after police officers told her she would be put in foster care if she denied her stepfather did it. What if the people really DIDN'T do it and children have been co-erced into giving a false story? And the person a child confides in about a rape faces a moral dilemma. Putting a friend or relative in jail is one thing, knowing you have information that will lead to their execution is another and might make people withhold information and or treatment for the victim.
Another question is how will the cut-off age be determined? Rape is a traumatic and scarring at all ages, so why should the rapist of a 19, 35 or 60-year-old be treated any differently than someone who sexually attacks a twelve-year-old? And if it is, isn't that implying older victims are more culpable in their own victimization?
It doesn't seem like there are any good answers and I am not envious of the people who will have to make them.