The State of South Carolina May Take Steps to Execute Child Sexual Predators

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 8, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Factor Follow-Up" segment tonight, as you may know, about 25 states have or are close to having some version of Jessica's Law — tough mandatory sentencing for childhood predators. In South Carolina, the legislature is debating whether to execute criminals convicted twice of raping children. Right now only Louisiana has such a law.

Joining us now from Columbia is South Carolina State Senator Jake Knotts. This has passed the Senate, your bill. It's now going to go this week to a House committee. And the governor says he'll sign it. And I'm pretty sure it's going to pass the House. Do you agree with me there, Senator?

JAKE KNOTTS, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE SENATOR (R): Yes, sir, Bill. It's going to pass the House. It's going through the committee process in the House and it will probably be on the floor this week and debated and come out of the House and go to the governor's desk sometime the next week or so.

O'REILLY: All right, the law says mandatory minimum 25 years to life for criminal sexual misconduct with a minor under 11. Is that 11 and under or under 11?

KNOTTS: Eleven and under.

O'REILLY: OK, 11 and under. Then it has all kinds of electronic monitoring, registering, all of this. Now second offense, death, huh?

KNOTTS: Second offense is pretty tough in this bill.

O'REILLY: So tell me what that would entail. You get 25 years. So if somebody was 25, he's 50 when he gets out. Then he does it again, it's got to be penetration of some kind.

KNOTTS: Yes, sir.

O'REILLY: Then you execute him, is that what you're going to do?

KNOTTS: The death penalty will proffered after the conviction of the first offense. If he commits it the second time, the death penalty could be given.

O'REILLY: All right, it's on the table. Some people say it's going to be unconstitutional because the Supreme Court has ruled in the late 1970s you can't sentence a person to death for the rape of an adult woman, it's never been heard on a child. Have you taken that into consideration?

KNOTTS: Yes, sir, we did. I tried to get the death penalty when I first wrote the bill in South Carolina about two years ago. Then we went around the state and got support and talked with the attorney general's office again. And he is willing to take the bill all the way to the Supreme Court, the law all the way to the Supreme Court and challenge it in the Supreme Court. And he believes he'll be successful because of the...

O'REILLY: Well, he's not going to have a chance to do it because under this law you're not going to be able to do it for 25 years from now, which is very interesting. So, the first time anybody in South Carolina could be executed under this new law, it seems to me, would be in — well, 25 and then you would probably have all the appeal process and all of that, so maybe it may be 26 to 27 years down the road. You're even not going to have to deal with it.

KNOTTS: Yes, sir, we will, but I believe that we'll probably have somebody challenge it or in some way that maybe the bill can be — well, a person who is already a sex offender has committed the first offense.

O'REILLY: Now that's interesting. That's interesting. So it's going to be retroactive if, say, you are a sex offender in South Carolina and you have been convicted of sexual battery, penetration of a child under 11 and now you are out and now you do it again, does that mean you would get the death penalty under this new bill?

KNOTTS: I believe that that would allow you to be sentenced to the capital punishment if it is your second offense and you committed it again.

O'REILLY: Wow, that's some message you're sending.

KNOTTS: Yes, Sir. We want to send a strong message to this type of society.

O'REILLY: Well, it will be interesting to see what happens. We believe it's going to pass probably this week. Mr. Knotts, it would be the toughest law in the country against child sexual predators. It will be interesting to see if anything — if I'm a sexual offender, I am not going to go to South Carolina. Go ahead real quick.

KNOTTS: That's the message we want to send. If you are a sexual offender in South Carolina, don't do it again. If you are one, don't come to South Carolina.

O'REILLY: All right Mr. Knotts, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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