Friday, April 21, 2006

Death For Rapists?...I'm O.K. With That!

Convicted child rapist Kenneth Hinson, 47, has no kids of his own and was extra-nice to neighborhood teens. So much so, that they called him "Uncle Kenney."

Uncle Kenny owned a rural plot of land in South Carolina, and left his property open to kids who wanted to go camping, and would often cook out for the neighborhood, roasting marshmallows, fishing, and generally being a nice guy.

Maybe a little too nice.

None of the parents who let their kids go to Hinson's property knew that he had served nine years in prison for the rape of a 12-year old girl in 1991.

"My kids stayed down there, camped down there with him and cooked down there with him," said Donna McGee, who knew Hinson for four years. "Nobody ever suspected anything."

Then, two 17-year old girls escaped from his property last month, saying that he had kidnapped them, bound their mouths and hands with duct tape and raped them repeatedly in a shallow "dungeon" under a trapdoor in his tool shed.

Hinson was captured after a four day manhunt, when he turned up at his niece's house asking for a cigarette and a glass of water. She called 911, and he was arrested.

Unfortunately, since the girls were 17, Hinson does not fall under South Carolina's new law permitting the state to execute any sex offender caught raping a child 12 and under.

Gov. Mark Sanfor and South Carolina's attorney general both endorse the death penalty for child rapists. Three other states have laws allowing the death penalty for child rapists: Louisiana, Florida and Montana, but none have carried it out in over 30 years.

"There are a lot of people who would argue a rape of a child is tantamount to taking their life, because you deprive them of their childhood," said Jay Hodge, the prosecutor in Hinson's case. But "as a practical matter, I don't feel comfortable that the U.S. Supreme Court would go along with it."

The Supreme Court in 1977 overturned the death sentence of a Georgia man condemned for raping an adult woman. It declared that execution "is an excessive penalty for the rapist who, as such, does not take human life."

I say the death penalty for child rapists should be automatic. In fact, I wouldn't mind if it were expanded to include all rapists. The act of rape is a violent, sociopathic display of contempt which destroys the life of the victim. Sure, some are able to recover, but they will never be the same again.

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