USA - Tennessee. Senate advances death penalty for child rape

USA - Tennessee

12 April 2024 :

April 9, 2024 - Tennessee. Tennessee Senate advances SB 1834 to allow death penalty for child rape
Tennessee’s GOP-controlled Senate advanced legislation on Tuesday allowing the death penalty in child rape convictions as critics raised concerns that the U.S. Supreme Court has banned capital punishment in such cases.
Republicans approved the bill on a 24-5 vote. It must still clear the similarly conservatively dominant House chamber before it can go to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk for his signature. If enacted, the Tennessee bill would authorize the state to pursue capital punishment when an adult is convicted of aggravated rape of a child. Those convicted could be sentenced to death, imprisonment for life without possibility of parole, or imprisonment for life.
Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis enacted a similar bill nearly a year ago. Supporters in both states argue that the goal is to get the currently conservative-controlled U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider a 2008 ruling that found it unconstitutional to use capital punishment in child sexual battery cases.
“We’re not violating the constitution: we’re challenging a ruling,” said Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma.
Only 7 other states have passed similar laws permitting capital punishment for rape of a child under 12, which each chip away at Kennedy v. Louisiana. In that 2008 case, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a Louisiana law that allowed the death penalty in child rape cases that do not involve the victim’s death, finding that it amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Democrats countered that the bill would instill more fear into child rape victims about whether to speak out knowing that doing so could potentially result in an execution. Others warned that predators could be incentivized to kill their victims in order to avoid a harsher punishment.


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