By a vote of five to four the United States Supreme Court has barred Louisiana and five other states from executing child rapists.
Between 1930 and 1964, 455 people in the United States were put to death by the states for rapes of adults or children. Apparently none of the executed was a white man who raped a black woman or child.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing in dissent in favour of the death penalty for child-rape, wrote: “The harm that is caused to the victims and to society at large by the worst child rapists is grave…. With respect to the question of moral depravity, is it really true that every person who is convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death is more morally depraved than a child rapist?”
But it seems to me there are several problems to a policy of executing criminals for the rape of children. First, there is the potential for wrongful executions, given unreliable or induced testimony from children. Second, the child victims would often have been obliged to testify, in effect to bring about the death of a criminal who might also be a close relative. Third the death penalty would remove the rapist’s incentive not to kill his victim. And fourth, rape within families would be even less likely to be reported than it is now.
What is most disturbing here is the U.S. Supreme Court came within one vote of joining the brutality of state-sanctioned murder to the brutality of child rape?
Do you agree?