No Death Penalty in Child Rape Cases

The US Supreme Court rejected a Louisiana law Wednesday that allowed persons convicted of child rape to be executed. Louisiana passed state legislation that allowed executions for rape of children under 12 years of age years after capital punishment was banned by the Court for rape in 1976 and 1977. The decision was issued in an appeal by Patrick Kennedy who was sentenced to the death penalty in 2003 for the rape of his eight-year old stepdaugher. The Louisiana State Supreme Court distinguished the state law by claiming that the earlier decisions applied only to adult rape.

According to the Court, capital punishment is appropriate only in cases involving murder. The Court held that “[d]ifficulties in administering the penalty to ensure its arbitrary and capricious application require adherence to a rule reserving its use, at this stage of evolving standards and in cases of crimes against individuals, for crimes that take the life of the victim.”

The decision was 5-4 in the case of Kennedy v. Louisiana.;