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Idaho Bill Advances to Punish Child Sex Crimes with Death Penalty

Idaho Bill Advances to Punish Child Sex Crimes with Death Penalty

Idaho House Republican legislators passed a bill on Tuesday, Feb. 13, that could lead to the death penalty for sex crimes against children.

House Bill 515 proposes the death penalty for lewd conduct with children under age 12, but only in cases with aggravating circumstances.

Co-sponsor Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, emphasized that the death penalty would be reserved for severe cases, particularly repeat offenders.

The bill aims to protect children from serious harm, especially in cases deemed exceptionally wicked.

Currently, Idaho law permits the death penalty only for first-degree murder cases.

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited death penalties for child rape in Kennedy v. Louisiana.

Despite concerns about its constitutionality, Skaug believes the current Supreme Court may interpret the law differently.

“Well, there’s constitutional and there’s constitutional. Depends on the court of the day,” Skaug, an attorney, told House lawmakers.

Only eight Idaho prisoners are on death row, according to the Idaho Department of Correction.

Skaug said he expects fewer cases under the new bill.

“It would be very rare that this case would happen. It’d be very rare that a prosecutor would take this kind of case and ask for the death penalty, but it will happen. And I say to you that when you see that case, you read about it in the newspaper, you’re gonna say, ‘This is the one case that this needs to happen,’” Skaug said.

The Idaho House passed the bill on a 57-11 vote.

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