Thursday, March 30, 2006


South Carolina Attempting to Expand Death Penalty

One of my best friends, a prosecutor in South Carolina, informed me Wednesday night that South Carolina was attempting to expand their version of the death penalty to include child molesters. He was of the opinion that it would have constitutional problems, if it is signed into law in the Palmetto State.

The law would allow for South Carolina prosecutors to seek the death penalty in cases where a person is convicted twice of raping a child under the age of 11.

Regarding the constitutional question, that certainly is an issue. However, Louisiana has a similar law (although I believe their law sets the age limit at 12 year olds), and the Louisiana Supreme Court found that the law passed constitutional muster. That being said, that was a state court and not the federal system, where less predictable results may lie.

Turning from the issue of whether this could be implemented to whether it should be implemented, I am certainly for the most severe punishment for pedophiles. I read a recent case file in a local county only a few days ago that nearly made me physically ill due to the graphic nature of pedophilia.

However, what I would like to know is how South Carolina is managing its death row. How many murderers are sitting on their Death Row, and how long have they been there? I would only approve of expansion of the death penalty in these circumstances if the problems with its implementation (limiting of appeals, for instance) have been fixed in that state. If these issues have been addressed, then I have no problem with expanding the list of capital crimes, but legislators need to make sure that the system is solid before putting extra responsibility upon it.

UPDATE: Mark Rose has more on this topic.

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