House adds item to bill to allow death sentences for child rape

Thursday, May 15, 2008 | 1:25 p.m. CDT; updated 11:51 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — The House voted today to permit death sentences for those convicted of rape or forcible sodomy if a victim is less than 12 years old.

Lawmakers added the provision to a larger bill by voice vote after permitting little debate. Before the legislative session started, Gov. Matt Blunt called for a law allowing executions in those cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in April on a Louisiana law allowing the death penalty for child rapists. But the court has not yet ruled.

Republican House Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt, of Blue Springs, says juries should be allowed to decide if child rapists deserve a death sentence.

But Democrats argue it could imperil children by giving child rapists no incentive not to kill their victims.

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