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Oklahoma becomes fifth state to allow executions of repeat child molesters

[JURIST] Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry [official website] on Friday signed SB 1800 [RTF text], a law which enlarges the scope of the death penalty to cover a second or subsequent sexual offense against a child under the age of 14. Similar child molestation statutes have been enacted by Florida, Louisiana and Montana, and the South Carolina governor signed a similar bill [Charlotte Observer report] on Thursday. The death penalty provision applies to anyone convicted of a second offense of lewd molestation, rape, or sodomy against someone under age 14.

Some constitutional experts say such statutes conflict with recent US Supreme Court rulings that restrict the application of capital punishment [JURIST news archive]. Last year, the Court struck down the death penalty as applied to juveniles [JURIST report; opinion text]. No sex offenders have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977, though a Louisiana inmate is currently on death row for raping an 8-year-old girl. AP has more.

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