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Should Child Sex Traffickers Be Put to Death?

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, is drafting legislation that, if passed, would punish child traffickers with the death penalty.

Rep. Paul Ray has strong feelings about those who traffic children for sex.

“I wish we could kill them twice. I mean, that’s what it comes down to, this is a terrible crime,” he says.

To address those feelings, Ray began working on a bill that would punish child traffickers with a death sentence last year, but abandoned it because work on another one of his bills took up too much time. That bill also had to do with the death penalty. It brought back the firing squad as an option.

Ray says this new bill is needed to help stop the practice of child sex trafficking from spreading.

“I think you need to deal with it harshly," Ray says. "You know, it’s a heinous, terrible crime. You can liken it to murder and I think there needs to be some really hard penalties when it comes to that.”

Civil liberties groups are likely to oppose this bill, as they did Ray’s legislation to reinstate the firing squad as an option for execution. Josh Daniels is a policy analyst at the Libertas institute. He recently wrote an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune opposing the death penalty.

“We agree with Rep. Ray that child sex trafficking is among the very worst crimes, but the death penalty is a failed policy," he says. "And so, I think life without parole is an adequate alternative for those who are convicted of child sex trafficking.”

The bill will also likely face a constitutional challenge on the grounds that the death penalty is excessive for the crime. Currently child trafficking is a first-degree felony with a possible prison sentence of 25 years to life. 

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