Oklahoma Sex Offender Legislation Raises Constitutional Questions

Wednesday, June 7th 2006, 2:46 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A bill to allow the death penalty for repeat child molesters is expected to be signed into law by Governor Henry this week.

But defense attorneys and death penalty experts say the proposal will never pass the test of constitutionality.

Law professor David Brook at Washington and Lee University in Virginia says such a law is ``dead on arrival'' constitutionally.

And New Jersey criminal defense lawyer William Buckman says the US Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the death penalty is allowable only for heinous killings that include aggravating factors.

The proposal by Senator Jay Paul Gumm allows for the death penalty or life in prison for anyone convicted of a second sex offense against a child under 14. Similar laws are in place in Florida, Louisiana and Montana and another is pending in South Carolina.

But no one convicted of a sex offense has been executed since the death penalty was reinstated 30 years ago.

And in 1977 the Supreme Court overturned the death penalty of a Georgia man convicted of raping an adult woman saying the penalty was excessive for someone who didn't kill.