Should Child Rapists Be Spared?

Posted by on June 6, 2007

images.jpegApparently the Louisiana Supreme Court thinks not because last week it upheld the death sentence of a man convicted of raping an eight year old girl.

The specifics vary but capital punishment for child rape is legal in Georgia, Florida, Montana, Oklahoma, Louisiana and South Carolina. Texas also just passed a bill and it is expected the Governor will sign it into law. I didn’t even know a death sentence was an option in such cases but I have to say that I am uncharacteristically happy about it.

Ordinarily, I do not support the death penalty because of all the cases in which people have been proven wrongly convicted by the advent of DNA testing. But for some reason, I feel absolutely no compunction about giving a death sentence to someone who commits child rape, as in the Louisiana case, where the attack was so brutal that the little girl required surgery to try and repair the damage.

Perhaps if I knew all the facts, I would feel differently, but as it stands I feel no mercy whatsoever for the perpetrator, Patrick Kennedy.

I’m a little ashamed that I feel glad that he’s slated for death; that I can’t rise above it, but ultimately, I just look at it as one less predator to worry about; one less piece of shit for the state to support and then monitor when he gets out on parole, which he no doubt eventually would. And? One less piece of shit that will become a recidivist and rape again, as sexual predators almost always do.

I can’t explain the disparity between my feelings about capital punishment for murderers and child rapists except to say that, as a parent, I feel a special kind of hate for people that prey on kids that supercedes just about anything else. Logical? No. Of course not.

When I was nine years old, I was grabbed at a Holiday Inn ice machine by a guy who, ten minutes earlier, had helped me open the tricky door to our hotel room. He held me and asked me what I would do if he pulled his pants down and when I started screaming, he tried to put his hand over my mouth and forcefully subdue me. I struggled with him and when I broke free he ran away but I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had been too scared to fight; if I had been too scared to scream?

We filed a police report but we never heard anything else about the case and thus I also wonder, on occasion, how many other girls were not as lucky as I was.

So I ask you…should child rapists get the death penalty and why?

Or should they be spared and why?

If you chose the former, would you still be in favor of the death penalty if the perpetrator were a family member?

And if you chose the latter, would you still feel that way if the victim were your own child?


  • Elizabeth says:

    Oh Izzy, what a horribly scary time that must have been for you. How brave you were to struggle and fight like that, and thank god you did. I also have a problem with the death penalty because of how often there are wrongful convictions, but I also agree that someone who can brutally rape an eight year old isn’t going to go to prison and be rehabilitated in any kind of way. Let ‘em fry.

  • What a horrible experience… I’m glad you were able to get away!! I totally agree with you, although I sometimes wonder if death is too GOOD for those people.

  • It saddens and appalls me how almost every girl I’ve ever known has had some similar story, Izzy, and even more so how many didn’t have the lucky escape you had.

    I think that’s exactly why so many of us feel so very strongly. It’s doesn’t kill you, usually, that, but my God it damages you.

    Nevertheless, I don’t agree with the death penalty here.

    I do, however, believe that those who perpetuate sexual assaults against children must be locked up permanently, for life, no parole. I do not believe these people can be salvaged. I’m not sorry I feel that way either—I don’t apologize for it. It is based on statistics, numbers, knowledge, not just emotion.

    And honestly? I frequently advocate FOR criminals and ex-convicts so this is very out of character.

    I generally believe that with the right opportunity many criminals can becomes productive contributing members of society.

    But not those who harm children this way. Nope.

  • yorksdevil says:

    I see no reason people who think it acceptable to rape a child deserve to live. As Elizabeth suggests above, such a fundamental shift in mindset isn’t simply going to correct itself.

  • Mrs. Chicky says:

    This is a tough one. I’m very close to this issue but I still don’t think the death penalty is the right action. I can certainly see both sides of the argument, however.

    And I’m very sorry you had to go through something like that. No one should have to.

  • Chani says:

    Have to agree with Ms Chicky on this one. The death penalty is never an acceptable solution. Lock ‘em up and melt the key. That’s as far as I can go.

    That was certainly a terrible experience. My view in no way negates that.



  • toyfoto says:

    While your history makes you especially sensitive to this subject, and the crime itself doesn’t lend itself to sympathy from most rational-thinking people, I have to say that I don’t the death penalty is the answer.

    Just as many people (if not more) are probably falsely accused and convicted of child rape and molestation as there are convicted murderers.

    The possibility of death won’t keep people from committing the crime in the first place, it won’t solve the problems. It won’t even save the taxpayers any money. It will only add to our moral decay as a society as a whole.

    There are no easy answers.

  • I am so, so sorry that happened to you.

    I am against the death penalty, but I agree that the rape of a child is about the most heinous crime there is.

  • Meghan says:

    I have similar confliceted feelings when it comes to child rape. Anyone who would commit that kind of atrocity is beyond help, in my mind. I just don’t know, but I am also generally anti-death penalty (particularly when lethal injection is botched so badly the recipeint has to take a bathroom break mid-way through their own killing) but those situations make me waffle. I don’t think I could forgive anyone for doing that to ANY child.

  • tori says:

    I am so sorry you had to go through that!

    I am not sure how I feel about the death penalty for that. On the one hand, I feel like crimes against children are just so horrible that maybe I am ok with it. On the other hand, I just don’t feel like it is right to take the life of another human (as inhumane as he/she has behaved). I am on the fence on this one.

  • Oh my god, that’s awful.

    I heard a statistic that 1 in 4 girls are molested. One in four? That means that in my daughter’s class of 12 girls, there are three possibly being molested. That sickens me.

    I say let the child rapists and molesters die. There is no cure for that, no reformation.

  • RWA says:

    I agree with the death penalty. Period. The problem with it is that it is dragged out too long.

    I am sorry about your experience as a child, but I am glad to hear that you escaped without any physical harm.

  • GraceD says:

    Motherhood and the Polly Klaas murder changed this ultra-liberal mind about the death penalty. I’m all for it, most especially for the child rapist/killer.

    Why? Because this is the most heinous of crimes. There is nothing in the character of such a criminal that is of value to society. They are beyond redemption. Best not waste the earth’s oxygen on such a vile creature.

    As to the incident at the ice machine, you were a brave, magnificent girl-child who fought back. If I was your mother I would have been proud beyond words.

  • ewe_are_here says:

    In theory, I don’t have a problem with child rapists receiving the death penalty. But where would you draw the line in regard to the age of the child? at 5? 8? 12? 15? 17? Because you would have to draw a line somewhere; otherwise, we might as well condemn all rapists to death. And, again, while in theory, who cares, they’re rapists, a lot of people are wrongfully accused of rape. And, in reality, as you pointed out, the death penalty is too often applied to people who are later found innocent, and it is not applied evenly across our society, with a disproportionate number of poor people and minorities represented on death row. I’m also troubled by the high number of men of color who have been cleared by DNA evidence after years and years sitting in prison, often on death row. And a large percentage of these men were sitting there for rape convictions.

    If it were to happen to my child, yes, I’d probably want the person who did it to die. But only if I was 110% sure they had the person who did it… and that’s where the problem lies for me.

    As for your question about a family member, even more problematic. What if the rapist turned out to be another one of your children? Or the child’s father? Condemning them to death might create even more troubling issues for the victim down the line…

    This is a really tough issue.

  • FishyGirl says:

    I am pro-death penalty in principle, but I think the system that applies it in this country needs to change. I am also for the harshest of penalties for all crimes against children.

    So sorry you had to experience that, Izzy. You were (are) one strong girl (woman).

  • Christina says:

    I am all for the death penalty for those who commit violent crimes against children, even if it doesn’t kill the child. Sometimes the emotional and physical scars left behind are nearly as bad to the child as being killed. I may be a little biased – I was molested as a child and nearly kidnapped once – but I don’t think child rapists are redeemable.

    (Although luckily, many other criminals don’t take kindly to child molesters, either, and even without a death penalty, some child rapists meet an (un)fortunate end at the hands of other inmates.)

  • BabyWhisperingLoudly says:

    Much sympathy and empathy for your personal experience. There’s no shaking that experience and how it frames your thoughts on the subject, I’m sure. Just reading about it riles me to want to fight off the bad guy tooth and nail.

    The issue for me, however, is whether or not I could sanction our government’s right to take a life. And under any circumstance–even with my own friends and family–I cannot give the US government that power. It’s just too scary.

  • Much sympathy and empathy for your personal experience. There’s no shaking that experience and how it frames your thoughts on the subject, I’m sure. Just reading about it riles me to want to fight off the bad guy tooth and nail.

    The issue for me, however, is whether or not I could sanction our government’s right to take a life. And under any circumstance–even with my own friends and family–I cannot give the US government that power. It’s just too scary.

  • Kristin says:

    There are times when retribution seems appropriate, but, I still can’t quite get behind the death penalty.

    That being said, if anyone hurt my children, I’d kill them myself.

    And that isn’t hyperbole.

  • Jenn says:

    I was raped by my ex of five years. THings were tough and I didn’t want to have sex until they were resolved. One day, he came home, drunk and angry. I remember closing my eyes, wishing that I could disappear. I never reported it because, hell, we were living together (I am not American and it did not happen in America). A month later, I left.

    A rape is a murder of the spirit, which is to me, many times worse than a murder of the body because death comes too slowly. With the death penalty, the rapist is dead before the rape victim. What justice is there?

    If it were up to me, I would inject a virus into the rapist’s body that kills his spirit and poisons his soul. Eat him alive inside out until there is nothing left but a shell of a man – and to make sure he is aware of it, every step of the way.

    But that’s just me.

  • chris says:

    I am for the death penalty. And here is why: My in-laws work at a sexual offenders prison. These people do not feel sorry. They do not regret it. The crimes they have committed (believe it or not) are many time even more heinous than that of Patrick Kennedy. The thing is..they have it good in jail and it makes me sick. They have t.v., internet, video’s, activities, even Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. They have lives even though they are behind bars.

    How long will it take young children to regain theirs? How will this effect thier quality of life for years to come? They have to suffer ever single day for what was done to them while thier attackers suffer no more than a loss of freedom to live where they choose.

    I can’t remember the exact statistic but I believe it’s like 85% of those released end up committing a repeat offense and usually more aggressive than the first. Therefore many of these people are never released. So my hard earned tax dollars are helping them live a decent and comfortable life so that children are safe. In my opinion..if the government is going to spend my money on them…spend it sending them straight to hell with a one way ticket.

    Overall though, it wouldn’t be an issue for me. As Kristen said..anyone ever did that to my child…the only thing that would stop me from killing them is the fact that my Mother in law promised she’d get there first.

  • FENICLE says:

    Deep thoughts……I am with you that I don’t usually support the death penalty. Somewhat due to people being wrongly convicted & somewhat on my opinions of human life.

    My first thought is that a convicted killer should spend their life rotting in an 8X8 cell and be faced with what they have done 24/7 for eternity. But when you ask if I would feel differently if it were my child who were raped or murdered….I’m pretty sure I would at first. I don’t know if I could EVER overcome that hate.

  • Izzy says:

    You know, I think that’s the best idea I’ve ever heard.

  • I go back and forth on the death penalty in my head, although usually I am on the side of anti-death penalty. It’s just so big and complicated, it’s hard to get my head around it. However, in the case of child rape and I in your corner, babe.

  • Ann Clemmons says:

    I shivered at the end of this post. I like you, feel a little guilty about it, but agree with the death penalty, and only in these cases. Is that wrong? I live in Louisiana, in Baton Rouge, and I’m thrilled the state has finally gotten tough.

    Especially since these people can not seem to help themselves.

    Thanks for a great post!


    A Nice Plae In The Sun

  • I am sorry to hear what happened to you. That must have been super scary. I am glad to hear you got away.

    I don’t like any rape. I have been lucky enough to never been attacked by a stranger.

    All rapists are evil. That might not make us any better for hating them or giving them the death penalty, but they deserve it. I don’t think there is any forgiveness for rapists. And you are right, they usually do attack again when paroled. They are unforgivable becasue they prey on the most innocent human beings , a child. They are evil cowards that need control over small human beings to fulfill their sickness. There is no excuse for them, there is no forgiveness.

    I say take their life. After all what is it good for?

  • fidget says:

    I believe in the death penalty for these types of psychopaths. no remorse, no mercy. People who prey on children are so detached that there is no reform, no remorse, nothing human left. It could be my own father and I would still want the death penalty imposed.

  • Bethiclaus says:

    I am adamantly against the death penalty in all cases. That said, I understand your position and do feel that child victimization cases are particularly difficult to deal with. Even if the victim was my own child, I would still be against the death penalty. That is not to say that I wouldn’t kill someone to protect my child from victimization, I just wouldn’t want them killed as retribution. I really believe that the answer is making life sentences mean something. If we weren’t all afraid that criminals with life sentences would eventually be paroled (which they so frequently are), I think that most of us would be less keen on the death penalty.

  • kittenpie says:

    I think I might be with you – mostly for two reasons:
    -because it is a crime that can destroy a person’s whole life
    -because pedophiles cannot be cured
    A murderer can be a variety of things, for a variety of reasons, and I think it’s trickier to pin down than this crime, which is purely predatory.

  • Normally I have a hard time stomaching the idea of the death penalty. In the case of violent and/or sex crimes against any minor, I find that I have no problem with it. Perhaps I’m biased, though. I was molested as a child, and though I normally lean far into the pacifist side of the spectrum, I’d kill to protect any child from the horrors of the experience and emotional aftermath that I went through. I can only imagine that it’s far worse when rape is involved.

    I had to think about it for a while before I replied. To answer the “why” part of the question I had to decide if I was reacting emotionally based on my own experiences or if there was any sort of sensible rational to my answer. What I decided was that while there is a fair amount of emotion in my answer, the pure and simple truth is that rape – especially the rape of a child – is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable. Children are one of this world’s most precious resources. Anyone who harms them in any way should be dealt with harshly and with very little mercy.

    Would I still be in favor of the death penalty if the rapist was a member of my family? Yes. However, I’m not sure it would matter because I’d probably be the one on trial for murdering a child rapist.

  • Elena says:

    Had to ring in on this one. Yes, child rapists deserve the death penalty. Let me know when & where and I’ll be a witness! When I was in the third grade, I was playing outside at my best friend’s house and a man in a van stopped and asked us to help him find his lost puppy. Thank God, we ran right inside and reported it to all of our parents and police swarmed the street minutes later. Don’t think the guy was caught, and I’m sure some other little girl ended up falling for that line.
    Too bad the police weren’t there at night to protect me from my dad.
    This is for all the little girls out there…

  • bitsy parker says:

    At one point in my life I was not against the death penalty, but now I am revisiting the issue.

    However, sexual assaults against children are so twisted and there is no way to decipher the mental illness behind them. An old man told me once (in reference to the death penalty) “If there is a mad dog in the town, you put him down. You don’t let him continue to bite people.”

    Pedophiles and molesters cannot be rehabilitated, and while life is not for humans to decide, protection is the job of our society.

  • Jennifer says:

    I have always been anti-death penalty, but like some of the other writers having children has made me re-think this. Of course, that’s due to emotion and should pure emotion decide the issue? If so, we would let the families of victims decide the fate of the perpatrator.
    I think in a country where the death penalty is legal that using it to punish sex offenses is consistent. Two reasons: first, there is a lot of evidence that sex offender’s aren’t rehabilitated and second, once someone has been raped or molested life is never the same for the victim.

  • chris says:

    yes, i have no problem saying that.

    I don’t consider myself a proponent of the Death Penalty either. But remember that little girl in Idaho who was kidnapped along with her brother? When it was announced on the news that they had found him with her, I immediately thought why didn’t one of those policemen just shoot him.

  • Virginia says:

    I am pro-death penalty but only in the case of murder. If you deprive someone else of their life, you deserve the same. Any lesser offense, though heinous, does not merit death. True life in prison -yes.

  • Karen says:

    Fry them. No question.

  • Chase says:

    Wow – look at all the anti-death penalty commenters here! I’m actually surprised.

    Anyway. I’m 100% anti-death penalty. I’ve always said that even if I, myself, were murdered, I wouldn’t want the killer to be put to death. Where that mindset came from, I have no idea. Of course, I don’t have kids and might do a 180 by then. Heh.

  • Sensible One says:

    Whew! Leave it to Izzy to raise such an issue – very well thought out and written. Here are my thoughts, based on the original post as well as some of the comments above.

    First, regarding the “where do you draw the line” issue as it pertains to the child’s age, that’s easy. The law already has different levels of sexual abuse and labels for the perpetrators based on the crime. The laws for punishment would follow the same lines.

    Second, even having to think about how our viewpoints would change if the perpetrator (or victim) were a family member is exactly why a woman may never lead this country. Is your child worth more than mine? Is your father/uncle/brother less vile than mine? No matter how hard we try, we TEND to still lead with our hearts, not our rationale. Sorry, ladies – I know I’m going to take a lot of heat for that, but I believe it’s the truth.

    Third, lock them all up for life? Really? Sorry, but I sure as $#% don’t want to financially support any of these perverts for life.

    Lastly, while I do not believe it to be the government’s place to take a human life, frankly we already gave it that authority with Roe vs. Wade. Until we abolish abortion as it is used today, we can never abolish capital punishment. We, as a society, have little to no respect for human life, which is clearly evidenced by the perversity of crimes we are discussing. There was a time in our society that discussing whether or not someone who brutally rapes a child should die for the crime would never have taken place. There would have been no discussion, no death row, no appeal. The local law enforcement would have taken care of it themselves. But, oh, aren’t we so much more civilized? Because of our wishywashyness on such matters, we have an abundance of these crimes – every single day, in every state.

    Tell me, if even a fraction of these criminals KNEW that, if convicted, they would be immediately castrated, how many do you think would still commit the crime? Or, if convicted, they would be hanged the very next day? I’m sorry, but I firmly believe it’s our society’s “social awareness” and “criminal rights” policies that have put us in this mess.

    Oh, and “where that mindset came from” is the Bible.

    If any of that sounded nasty, didn’t mean it to be that way. I’m just a little vehement sometimes… ;)

  • Izzy says:

    You know..I thought the same thing.

  • Stefanie says:

    No matter what the crime, you can’t discount the fact that many people die in our country let alone others for crimes they didn’t commit. If there weren’t project like The Innocense Project around, no one would be on the side of the man or woman railroaded and perhaps put to death for crimes that weren’t proven. Until this is resolved, we as a country with an extremely flawed legal system can’t do something as pompous as ending a life. Why don’t we stop letting criminals out of jail?? Why is there such thing as no parole which really means parole just a little later? Why is a life sentence often mean 10 years or 5 with good behavior? That’s what we need to get to the bottom of. And I’m sorry for what happened to you Izzy. Something very similar happened to me to and it will always be a part of me now.

  • Sensible One says:

    We keep letting them out of jail because of what it would take to keep them there financially. We don’t want to keep criminals locked up any longer than necessary to “rehabilitate” them because that would be “cruel.” So we set low parole and release standards, and out they go again. Nobody wants to pay for criminals to just “be in jail”, they pay to make them supposedly functional members of society. Eventually the jails get full, because we’re not actually rehabilitating most of them and they keep coming back. When the jails get full, should they build new ones? I don’t know too many people who want one in their backyard.

  • wookie says:

    It costs too much to jail them for life.

    Castrating them still leaves them able to commit other offences (and I’m not convinced it’s a suitable deterrant).
    Honestly, as early as 100 years ago they just would have been lynched, and people would have breathed easier and felt safer.

    Would innocent people have been condemmed in the halcyon days of lynch mob justice?? Possibly, but it’s not particularly likely anymore with the advent of forensic technology that can analyze things like semen.

    I think that anyone who is a convicted repeat offender who molests, rapes or otherwise sexually abuses children should die. Period, end of sentence. Quickly would probably be less karmically bad for us than any painful mutilations.

    However, I do feel a need to draw the line around this as targeting child predators, as opposed to a 14 year old that had sex with his 12 year old girlfriend, and now her parents have charged him with rape. That’s unfortunate, but not the same league. Neither is date rape (although it is henious, I can’t see death penalty for it). Incest I would tend to lump with the child predators. Not all rape is equal (although it’s all terrible) and not all rapists are created equal.

    But the ones that repeatedly and brutally target children need to get the hell out of the gene pool. Now.

  • This is so hard. I’m against the death penalty, but on the other hand, I could see myself trying to kill the bastard with my own hands if he did that to my kid.

  • Aprylsantics says:

    I don’t want to be glib about it, but I think the death penalty is essential for child predators. I can’t imagine contributing indirectly to the perpetual upkeep–not just room and board, but counseling, medical needs, etc.- of someone so completely useless (disruptive, hurtful) to humankind.

    Going out on a limb here, but if there’s any kind of conscience left in someone like that, they probably realize they’re better off dead, too.

    Furthermore, I wouldn’t be the least bit regretful of a botched lethal injection, either, when considering what that poor child or children had to go through and what they will struggle with for the rest of their lives.

    In my opinion, the death penalty is a piece of cake compared to what I would do to anyone who even attempted to hurt my children.

  • Good God! That is a horrible story! Horrible!

    I am SO in favor of killing sickos who prey on kids. Are you kidding me? Who isn’t? One strike, you’re out buddy.

    And I’m also in favor of death by baseball bat or ax or something along the lines of NOT ONE PENNY OF TAX DOLLARS WASTED ON THE SCUM.

    Just my thoughts on the matter. Are you glad you asked? :)

  • Oh and I read the comment about the murder/kidnappings here in Idaho and I wanted to say that, ya, everyone here thought the same thing too.

  • kat says:

    Sorry you went thru that. Glad you had the prescence of mind to scream and get away. You were fortunate, but I know you know that!
    Two simple words: FRY EM. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

  • piglet says:

    i would have to say death penalty even if a family member. people that do these crimes cannot be rehabilitated, nor can serial killers. therefore, keeping them alive and in jail is a waste of time.

    i’ve seen many interviews by men that do this and they say themselves they cannot be rehabilitated.

    good questions.

    • Suellen says:

      But I understand where you were cmoing from and I also get where Mumia was cmoing from there isn’t enough black and white for the death penalty and that is the biggest takeaway

  • Oh, Iz.

    I have a story like that, too.

    I know. I so know. And I can’t rise above it, either.

  • Andy says:

    I DEFINATELY think anyone who would rape or do anything sexual to a child should die very painfully. If anyone ever touched my kids, nieces, nephews, or cousins, I’d kill the bastard myself.

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