Child Sexual Assault and the Death Penalty
Supremes to hear appeal of Louisiana man condemned to die for rape of stepdaughter
The case, Kennedy v. Louisiana, will likely be heard in April. Jelpi Picou Jr., an attorney for condemned inmate Patrick Kennedy, said in a press statement that while "the vast majority of the world's developed countries have moved toward narrowing the use of capital punishment ... Louisiana has chosen to expand it significantly." Indeed, this was the view of the Supreme Court in 1977, which opined execution was an "excessive penalty" for rapists, "who, as such, [do] not take human life." The decision to add child sex assault to the list of death-eligible crimes is frowned upon by several influential groups, including the National Association of Social Workers, which argue such a law does not protect children – and an offender who knows he or she could face execution regardless of whether his or her victim lives has little motivation to spare the victim's life. The law, the group says, "will likely have exactly the wrong effect."