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Supreme Court Rules on Death Penalty

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a state law that allows the death penalty for someone convicted of raping a child. This ruling also has implications for child rapists in Texas, as Jim Bell reports.


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The ruling overturned a Louisiana law, but constitutional law expert Gerald Treece at South Texas College of Law says the ruling also invalidates similar laws in other states, including Texas, which allows death for repeat child rapists.

“What the Supreme Court, in the opinion by Justice Kennedy says, was that we affirm the principle that in this country punishment must be proportional. And what that means is that if the government is to take your life, you as a criminal defendant, have to have intentionally and deliberately taken a life.”

The Texas legislature added repeat child rapists to the list of those eligible for the death penalty last year. Treece says the death penalty is no longer an option in those cases, but the rest of the punishment range can still be used.

“Texas can still enforce most of its law dealing with harsh punishment against sex offenders. If you’re a repeat sex offender, you’re still facing 25 years to life for a second offense.”

Legal experts warned state lawmakers last year that this law would be ruled unconstitional, and victim advocates warned that the possibility of getting the death penalty could prompt some rapists to kill their victims so they couldn’t identify them. Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.