Idaho has moved forward with legislation aimed at rendering sex crimes against children subject to the death penalty.


A new bill passed by Idaho House Republican legislators on Tuesday, February 13, proposes making sex crimes against children punishable by death. House Bill 515 seeks to authorize the death penalty in cases of lewd conduct involving children under the age of 12, particularly those with aggravating circumstances.

According to co-sponsor Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, the death penalty provision would be reserved for particularly egregious cases, such as those involving repeat offenders. Skaug emphasized the importance of protecting children from the dark side of society, stating, “There are times when things are so wicked that retribution is appropriate.”

Under current Idaho law, the death penalty is only applicable in cases of first-degree murder. However, the proposed bill aims to expand its scope to include certain sex crimes against children. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana, which prohibited death penalties for child rape, Skaug expressed confidence that the current Supreme Court might rule differently.

Responding to concerns about the bill’s constitutionality, Skaug, who is also an attorney, suggested that interpretations of the Constitution could vary depending on the prevailing court’s composition.

Currently, there are only eight prisoners on death row in Idaho. Skaug anticipates that the number of cases eligible for the death penalty under the proposed bill would be limited. He emphasized that while such cases would be rare, they would be deemed necessary to justify the death penalty.

The bill passed in the Idaho House with a vote of 57-11.

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