Matthew Silversten, Sentencing Coker v. Georgia to Death: Capital Child Rape Statutes Provide the Supreme Court an Opportunity to Return Meaning to the Eighth Amendment, 37 Gonz. L. Rev. 121 (2002).
In 1995, Louisiana’s legislature passed a statute that gave prosecutors the discretion to seek the death penalty against defendants convicted of child rape. For example, the legislature decided that an HIV positive man who raped three girls, between the ages ranging from five to nine years old, one of whom was his daughter, should be punished by death or life imprisonment. In 1999, the Georgia legislature passed similar legislation making Georgia the second state in four years to declare child rape a death penalty eligible offense. Although both of the statutes were debated and drafted by members of the Louisiana and Georgia legislatures and were signed into law by each state’s governor, the fate of the statutes is still very much in doubt because one United States Supreme Court case authorizes the Court to act as a final arbiter of state criminal sanctions.