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Death penalty option for child rapists heads to governor’s desk

The General Assembly recently approved legislation allowing the state to seek the death penalty as an option for those convicted of raping a child under the age of 12. 

“If we are going to have the death penalty for any offense, it should be an option for these offenses,” said bill sponsor House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland. “Not in every single case, but in those cases where there are aggravating circumstances… it should at least be an option for a jury for the worst of the worst offenders out there.”

In order to be eligible for the death penalty, biological evidence must be presented during a trial linking the defendant to the crime, and serious bodily injury must have been caused to the victim.

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 House Bill 1663 builds on the General Assembly’s efforts in recent years to improve public safety, reduce recidivism rates, and hold criminals accountable through smart-on-crime justice reforms. The General Assembly in 2022 passed truth in sentencing laws that increased penalties for the most violent of crimes and now requires offenders to serve 85-100 percent of their sentences. 

House Bill 1663 will now head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law. It will take effect July 1.

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