Idaho: Child Predators Face Death Penalty

On Tuesday, the Idaho State House passed a bill that would allow the death penalty for anyone convicted of certain lewd or lascivious acts against children under 12, according to the Idaho Stateman.

House Bill 515 allows the death penalty in cases of lewd conduct with a preteen child, according to OAN.

Rep. Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa) and Rep. Josh Tanner (R-Eagle) sponsored the bill. Skaug made it clear to House lawmakers that the bill, should it become law, would only be used in extreme cases.

“There is a deep, dark, dark side in our culture. And it’s our job to protect the children,” Skaug said. “There are times when things are so wicked that retribution is appropriate.”

“The victims forever live in fear of the release of their perpetrators,” Skaug continued, “and many of these perpetrators are repeat criminals of this type of crime. I believe this is worth the fight.”

The fight Skaug was speaking of is with the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled in 2008 that the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits death sentences for the assault of a preteen child if the victim is not killed.

The 2008 decision underscored a decision in 1977 that found that a death sentence was “grossly disproportionate and excessive punishment” for the violation of an adult if the victim was not killed.

“I believe that was a wrong decision that took away our state’s right to decide what to do in the most heinous crimes of our community in our state,” Skaug said.

“I think there will be a very different decision with our present Supreme Court, but that would require all of you to stand up today and say, ‘We’re willing to take that fight on.’ ”

The overwhelming majority of House lawmakers were willing to do just that. The vote was 57 in favor of the bill with 11 voting against it. Two lawmakers were not present.

A progressive spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, Rebecca De León, disagreed. She called the bill “blatantly and admittedly unconstitutional,” according to OAN.

“House Bill 515 and any iterations of (it) have already been litigated in our country’s highest court, and found to be unconstitutional,” De León said.

“Our lawmakers should exercise a healthy respect for laws, law enforcement, and judicial review. This bill spits on the checks and balances our country was founded on.” De León continued.

Before the bill’s passing, Idaho allowed the death penalty only in first-degree murder cases.
The Idaho bill mimics a law that took effect in Florida last year when GOP Governor DeSantis sought to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s prior precedent.

The first defendant to face the new Florida law hammered out a plea deal in exchange for life in prison without the chance of parole.

Co-sponsor Tanner said from the House floor, “Idaho needs to be like Florida and lead out in this and go. We’re here to protect these kids. At some point in time, we have to be able to say, ‘No, enough is enough,’ with … the most severe ones.”

By severe, Tanner meant the proposed law “a person found guilty of lewd or lascivious acts against a child under the age of 12 would be punishable up to death if a jury finds that the defendant engaged in aggravating circumstances.”

Idaho defines lewd or lascivious conduct to include, but not limited to, any combination of genital, oral, anal or manual contact, according to the Statesman.