Lawmakers Discuss Death Penalty For Repeat Sex Offenders

Friday, August 14th 2009, 9:35 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - An Oklahoma lawmaker pushes to toughen laws against repeat sex offenders.  A Sand Springs legislator wants repeat child molesters to face the death penalty.  But, the idea might not pass constitutional muster.

The arrest of a two-time convicted sex offender for kidnapping and molestation has prompted outrage.  And, the uproar has a state lawmaker from Sand Springs calling for action to toughen penalties against repeat sex offenders.

08/14/2009  Related Story: Sand Springs Lawmaker Wants Death For Repeat Child Molesters

"That individual ought to be, at the discretion of the district attorney, eligible for the death penalty," said Representative Rex Duncan of Sand Springs.

It's not the first time the idea has come up.  Oklahoma Senator Jonathan Nichols of Norman introduced a bill in 2006.

"It will send a clear message to child predators in the state of Oklahoma we will find you, we will prosecute you, and we will put you to death," said Senator Jonathan Nichols.

The U.S. Supreme Court intercepted that message in 2008.  The nation's highest court ruled in a split decision the death penalty was unconstitutional for the rape of a child.  The move struck down death penalty laws in five states, including Oklahoma.

"The intent of my legislation would be to find a way around the Supreme Court's prohibition on the use of the death penalty for child molesters," said Representative Rex Duncan of Sand Springs.

Representative Duncan says the U.S. Supreme Court case involved a Louisiana inmate convicted of his first offense and he believes the outcome would be different for a two-time sex offender.

But, Oklahoma's first law dealt with repeat offenders.  Duncan admits it will be an uphill battle.  But, with a high profile case fresh in people's minds, he says it's worth the fight.

"If they are found guilty a second time by a jury of their peers then the public ought to have the piece of mine that individual will never walk the streets again," said Representative Rex Duncan.