Should child rapists be eligible for the death penalty?

Essay by soccerali752College, UndergraduateA, May 2009

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Should child rapists be eligible for the death penalty? The hotly debated topic has been disputed for quite some time now. The question over the morality of punishing a child rapist to death has been argued to be cruel and unusual punishment. This is ludicrous in my mind. Raping an innocent child with no way to defend themselves is cruel and unusual; therefore, I believe the death penalty should be permitted. Regardless of my own personal opinion, the punishment of pedophiles is a controversial topic that has multiple outlooks.

To gain a stronger understanding of this controversial question, it is important to know the basic information and backgrounds of the terms: rape and capital punishment (aka: the death penalty). Rape, as defined in Penal Code 261, is sexual intercourse of someone who is not your spouse, done without legally effective consent. Sexual intercourse is defined as any penetration of the penis into the female genitalia, however slight it might be.

Rape often is done by use of violence, fear, force, predatory drugs, or threats. Therefore, committing these acts upon a child is considered unlawful sexual intercourse, also known as statutory rape. Capital punishment, also know as the death penalty or execution, is "the killing of a person by judicial process for retribution and incapacitation" ( The death penalty has been in effect ever since the 1600's. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was a form of cruel and unusual punishment according to the eighth amendment, thus putting a halt on all executions since it was ruled to be unconstitutional in 1972. It was argued that the methods of execution, such as: electrocution, hanging, and firing squad, were much too agonizing and slow upon those sentenced to death. In 1976, the U.S. Supreme court overturned this decision...