Repeat sex offenders to face capital punishment in Texas

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A bill on death penalty for repeated child sex offenders was given preliminary approval by Texas House of Representatives. The bill is called Jessica's Law, after a nine-year old Florida girl who was raped and murdered by John Couey, who had a prior history of sexual assault on minors.

Jessica's law is intended to crack down on sexual offenders who continually repeat the crime. With this bill Texas becomes the sixth American state to allow death sentence for continual sex offenders.

The lawmakers voted to set up a new category of crime: repeated sexual assault on a child or children. This category of crime carries 25 years in prison or capital punishment for a repeated sexual abuse of a child.

At first the Lone Star State's House of Representatives delayed voting on a broader death sentence provision as the lawmakers had worries that it could lead some assaulters to kill their victims. They came back for a vote after talking to district attorneys and victim advocacy groups.

The bill implies a so called "Romeo and Juliet“ exception that is intended to avoid prosecuting high school romances.

Jessica's Law also annulates the limitations for many sex crimes against children, such as indecency with a child and aggravated sexual assault.