Texas Talks Tough on Predators

Texas lawmakers are talking tough about cracking down on sexual predators who prey on children. 

While some propose the death penalty for repeat offenders other ideas include a 25 year
mandatory sentences for first-time offenders or eliminating probation.

Opposition is coming from unexpected sources-- prosecutors and victim advocates. 
They fear some of the proposals would make it harder to get convictions.

They also worry tougher punishments would only increase the incentive for molesters to kill their victims to keep them from testifying against them.

And there's the question of whether the death penalty in sex offenses is even constitutional. In 1977, the U-S Supreme Court reversed a death sentence for a Georgia man convicted of raping a woman. Justices called it an "excessive penalty for the rapist, who as such does not take human life."

But Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has led the charge for tougher penalties for child molesters. He's calling for a 25-year minimum sentence after the first conviction when a victim is less than 14 -- and a death penalty option for repeat offenders.

Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Resource Center in Washington sees it as "a trend" and "a strong, symbolic gesture." But in his words -- "I don't see it being used very much."

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Last Modified 09/07/2006 09:35:12 PM