|JEFFERSON CITY - The U.S. Supreme Court has begun hearing arguments about a Louisiana law allowing the death penalty as an appropriate form of punishment for a criminal convicted of child rape. Last month Gov. Matt Blunt and 28 members of the Missouri General Assembly filed a brief with the U.S Supreme Court in support of the law.
"We have a responsibility to do everything within our power to protect our children from violent sexual predators," Gov. Blunt said. "I believe that death is an appropriate form of punishment for those who commit terribly violent crimes against young children. The terrible crime against a 7-year-old girl in Missouri last week should strengthen our resolve to enact the death penalty for child rape. I will continue to advocate for laws to better protect Missouri's children against thesecriminals."
Blunt and members of the Missouri General Assembly filed an amici curiae, or "friends of the court" brief in March, askingthe court to clarify previous rulings that the Eighth Amendment does not prohibit the death penalty for child rapists. The brief also argues that the court should not preclude a national debate on this issue and allow states to form a consensus.
Calling on Missouri's elected representatives to send him legislation that adds the optional sentence of death to forcible rape and forcible sodomy when the victim is younger than 12 years old, Blunt called attention to a recent child rape case in Springfield where a 36-year-old man has been charged with kidnapping and forcibly raping and sodomizing a 7-year-old girl leaving her for dead in a burning house.
Missouri's version of Jessica's Law, which Blunt considers the toughest in the nation, mandates a lifetime sentence with a minimum of 30 years for serious sexual crimes committed against young children and calls for certain sex offenders to be monitored their entire lives. The governor also led the successful effort to expand the state's sexual offender registry and add new tools to make it a more powerful resource for parents and law enforcement officials.
Blunt created a state program to support multi-jurisdictional Internet cyber crimes task forces and a related grant program to help protect children from online predators. He supports legislation to strengthen Missouri's sex offender registry even further by requiring convicted sex offenders to submit their e-mail addresses, instant messaging names, and any other electronic identifiers to the sex offender registry. The information would then be available to assist parents and law enforcement. Registered sex offenders only would be allowed to use e-mail addresses or other Internet based identifiers that they provide to the sex offender registry.
Governor orders executions be carried out in Missouri
Following a U.S. Supreme Court decision rejecting a challenge to lethal injection, the governor, a proponent of the death penalty, called on the Missouri Supreme Court to immediately issue execution orders for all pending death penalty cases.
Editor's note: For an article about an anti-death penalty advocate and further information regarding those on death row in Missouri, go here.