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Mo. Senate endorses life without parole for child rapists

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By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Senate has endorsed a bill that could send some violent sex offenders away for life.

The bill would give prosecutors the option of pursuing a life without parole sentence for anyone convicted of violently raping or sodomizing a child age eleven or younger.

It's sponsored by State Senator Jack Goodman (R, Mt. Vernon).

"Under current law, even if you get a life sentence, you're eligible for parole after 30 years," Goodman said.

No one opposed the bill during floor debate Wednesday. But at a hearing two weeks ago, a trial lawyer opposed it on the grounds that the State Parole Board should have a say in how long violent offenders remain locked up.

Goodman sponsored a similar bill in 2008 that went even further.

"Last year I had legislation that included (the) possibility of the death penalty...I would still prefer to have capital punishment available as a punishment for crimes such as this," Goodman said.

But the provision was nullified by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against a Louisiana law that had allowed the death penalty for child rapists there.

Missouri's life-without-parole bill faces a final Senate vote before moving on to the State House.

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