Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal
Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court announced it struck down the death penalty for child rape in his state, Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill authorizing castration of sexual offenders.
Jindal – frequently mentioned as a potential vice-presidential nominee – said he was “especially glad” to sign the Sex Offender Chemical Castration Bill “on the same day the Supreme Court has made an atrocious ruling against our state’s ability to sentence those who sexually assault our children to the fullest extent.”
“Those who prey on our children are among the very worst criminals imaginable,” Jindal said in a statement.
In a 5-4 vote announced yesterday, the Supreme Court’s majority said imposing the death penalty in child rape cases violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
“The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.
Hailing the new state castration law, Jindal said that as a father of three children, as well as a governor, he believes “sexually assaulting a child is one of the very worst crimes, and I am glad we have taken such strong measures in Louisiana to put a stop to these monsters’ brutal acts.”
“I want to send the message loud and clear – to the Supreme Court of the United States and beyond – make no mistake about it, if anyone wants to molest children and commit sexual assaults on kids they should not do so here in Louisiana,” said the governor.
“Here, we will do everything in our power to protect our children, and we will not rest until justice is won and we have fully punished those who harm them,” Jindal said.
The Louisiana bill, SB 144, gives the court the option of castration on a first conviction of aggravated rape, forcible rape, second degree sexual battery, aggravated incest, molestation of a juvenile when the victim is under the age of 13, or an aggravated crime against nature.
Castration is required on a second conviction of the listed crimes.
The bill also allows a court to order physical castration instead of chemical castration. Convicted sex offenders who undergo castration must still serve their full sentence.
In the case addressed by yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, 43-year-old Patrick Kennedy was sentenced to death for the rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter. The assault was so severe the girl needed surgery to repair some of her organs.
Kennedy is one of two people in the country condemned to death for a rape not accompanied by a killing.
Both cases are in Louisiana, where proponents of the law argued there is a national trend toward the death penalty for child rape cases. Justice Samuel Alito pointed that out in his dissent, arguing the “harm that is caused to the victims and to society at large by the worst child rapists is grave.”
“It is the judgment of the Louisiana lawmakers and those in an increasing number of other states that these harms justify the death penalty,” Alito wrote.
Justice Kennedy contended, however, “there is a national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape,” based on the absence of any executions for rape and the fact that only five states allow it.
Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas allow executions for child rape if the defendant had a previous conviction for the crime.