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Tennessee Bill Seeks To Authorize Death Penalty For Child Rapists

Image Credit: Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0

The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –

House Majority Leader Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland-District 44) has filed a bill to authorize the death penalty as punishment for child rapists who were an adult at the time of the crime. 

“They should forfeit their own life,” said Rep. Lamberth. “They should face the death penalty.”

According to the lawmaker, he filed this bill for the sake of victims.

“Their lives are altered forever,” Rep. Lamberth continued. “They carry those scars for the rest of their life.”

House Bill 1663 (HB1663) as introduced, would allow the death penalty to be prescribed as punishment for adults who commit the following crimes: rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child, and especially aggravated rape of a child.

These charges are all classified as Class A felonies in Tennessee.

Current state law dictates that a person convicted of rape of a child must receive a minimum 35-40 year sentence and if appropriate, a 40-60 year sentence.

If a person is convicted of aggravated rape of a child, they must be sentenced to imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole.

Rep. Lamberth’s bill would simply be increasing the consequences for these crimes.

The bill text for HB1663 states that “if the defendant was an adult at the time of the offense, then the sentence must be: (A) Death; (B) Imprisonment for life without possibility of parole; or (C) Imprisonment for life.”

Imprisonment for life with the possibility for parole is not currently an option for defendants charged with aggravated or especially aggravated rape of a child. This would not change under HB1663.

Additionally, if the defendant was a juvenile at the time of the offense they would not face the death penalty but this bill would require sentencing to be “not less than forty (40) nor more than sixty (60) years.”

The bill text also states that whenever the death penalty is imposed in trial court the case must be reviewed by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

“I know that in passing this bill, this will be a bill that I’m sure will be challenged in court,” stated Rep. Lamberth. “I hope it goes all the way back up the Supreme Court and that they change their mind on this.”

Representatives Mary Littleton, Jeremy Faison, Kip Capley, Johnny Garrett, Clay Doggett, Jake McCalmon, Jason Zachary, Rusty Grills, Paul Sherrell, Rush Bricken, Dave Wright, and Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton have already been recorded as prime co-sponsors of HB1663.

About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. 

You can reach Adelia at

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