Hang 'Em High

Our Texas political heroes are once again trying to look like they are actually accomplishing something helpful to society. From today's Austin-American Statesperson:

Dozens of sex offender bills have already been filed for the 140-day legislative session that began Jan. 9.

Proponents want Texas to join states cracking down with tough "Jessica's Laws", named after a girl who was abducted and killed in Florida, and become one of a handful that could put some repeat offenders to death.

Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said Texas is already tough on sex offenders.

Most already serve their entire sentence without parole and are subject to civil commitment if experts deem them dangerous upon release.

"We are tough (on sex offenders.) Tougher than hell. We lead the nation in tough." Whitmire said. "But you've got to be careful."


Hmmm, "tougher than hell," eh? That must be some kind of prison. I had no idea there was a lake of fire down there in Huntsville.

And is this really an area where you want to "lead the nation?" How does that go when the legislators get together. "Guys, Alabama says they are tougher than us. We gotta show 'em!"

Don't get me wrong - those who molest children must be punished. They must also be prevented from causing additional harm. We already have ways to achieve these goals. What does imposing the death penalty on sex offenders accomplish? For one thing, it encourages them to make sure there are no witnesses to the crime. If you are going to get punished like a murderer anyway, you might as well finish the job.

Keep in mind, also, that many if not most cases of child molestation involve a relative or family member. How ethical is it to have a child testify against a grandparent, for example, when the result may be that relative's execution? Do we want to add this burden to a child who already has plenty to bear?

Justice should be based on solid ethical principles, not a misguided sense of revenge. Hopefully the legislature will drop this idea and get on with more important business.

8 comments:

Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

As much as I enjoy reading your blog, I gotta say that I disagree with you on this one, bro.

I've posted many a time on my blog concerning the DP. Here are just a couple of postings to see where I'm coming from;

http://catholic-caveman.blogspot.com/2006/08/you-want-someone-to-throw-switch-call.html

http://catholic-caveman.blogspot.com/2006/12/vatican-gets-it-wrong.html

Another thing I'd like you to consider... this latest craze with the Catholic Church against the DP is more rooted in Freud and the anti-Catholic "Great Enlightenment", than it is with St Thomas Aqauinas or St Paul.

Lastly.. expiation of sin. It all falls into that Faith and Works notion. If I want to be freed from whatever sin, there are certain things I must do. And in cases of rape, murder, etc... those "works" are my blood sacrifice.

As unpalatable as that seems to us here in the year 2007, that's exactly what The Church has taught for 2,000 years.

Patrick said...

Thanks for the comment. I don't think we are that far apart, actually. I'm not against the DP in all cases - I noted herein support for Saddam's hanging, for instance.

My point in this post was whether extending the DP to sex offenders will have undesirable side effects, such as encouraging child molesters to kill their victims. Do you have any thoughts on that possibility?

Also, if we are to apply DP to sex offenders who have not themselves taken a life, what other crimes should be punished by execution? To what extent are you willing to go in this?

Jennifer F. said...

You make a good point.

I think that the reason this bill has gotten much support is because there's a strong backlash going on. When you hear of stories like Jessica's and then hear that it was done by someone who'd done this before, you just totally freak out (or at least I do). When I read stories like that, as a mother, I'm just overcome with an irrational level of rage and think, "WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN!", just outraged that people who are known sex offenders are able to continue to hurt kids.

Of course the response is not to make it punishable by death (though I'm also not against the DP in all cases), there is definitely a lot of momentum in society to do something drastic here so that these sorts of things stop happening.

Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Patrick,
I see the distinction your making. And yes, I believe that SO's should be executed. The recitivism rate consistently hover in the high 90 percentile, and many kill their victim anyways.

And for those who don't kill the first time, how many kill the 3d, 4th, 5th go 'round?

Remember th3e case of the college girl from N. Dakota who was kidnapped, raped, then murdered by a paroled SO?

Or how about Polly Klass? Again, kidnapped, sodomized, raped, sexually tortured, then finally murdered by a paroled SO.

In my opinion, those who deserve the DP are those who actually commit (or order) murder, rape, treason, slave traders, and dope pushers.

By the way, did you get a chance to read either of those postings I did on the subject?

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian and totally against the death penalty. Murderers should be in prison forever, and everyone else, after they serve their time, should be allowed to live a normal life.

Links:
* http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm
* http://sexoffenderinfo.pbwiki.com
* http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/

* It should be MANDATORY that anyone in prison get therapy, and out of prison, if needed. Therapy does work. If you just lock them up, when they get out, they will be worse off. Therapy teaches people how to not act out and help, regardless of what the general public thinks. Just ask a therpist.

* We need to STOP this hysteria and get sex offenders the help they need.

* You can pass all the laws you want but without therapy and this "mob" mentality will not solve anything!

* I am sick of politicians using children to get their laws passed! Who would want to vote against anything that is "for the children"?

* If the sex offender laws are kept, why discriminate? If sex offenders must suffer for life and be on GPS, so should ANYONE with a criminal record. If this is not done, then it is discrimination. Anyone with a criminal record should be on a registry on the internet for the whole world to see, and be on GPS for life. DUI offenders should not be able to live XX feet from an alcohol store and should have their license revoked. Drug dealers should not be able to live XX feet from anywhere children congregate, so they cannot sell our kids drugs. Murderers should not be able to life XX feet from ANYONE, since they may kill again. DUI offenders kill more people than any other crime (I believe), and I'm sure the entire public would love to know if a murderer, thief, drug dealer, etc lives in their neighborhood. If all this was on the internet for all to see, I'm sure everyone would NOT leave their house at all. These people are everywhere. Why are sex offenders being "scape goated"? EVERYONE WITH A CRIMINAL RECORD SHOULD OBIDE BY THE SAME LAWS SEX OFFENDERS HAVE TO OR IT'S DISCRIMINATION!!

* "Buffer Zones" are a false sense of security!

* "Buffer Zones" are banishing people from their town, state, and possibly the country!

* "Buffer Zones" create homelessness, which costs society lost productivity, individual dignity, and creates additional problems for enforcing any accurate registry!

* "Buffer Zones" do nothing, except banish! It could be 50 miles and if someone wanted to re-offend, they'd just get in a car and drive!

* These laws protect nobody!

* "Stranger Danger" is a smoke screen & hype! Most child sexual offenses occur by someone the child knows, like a family member or close friend!

* These laws are being passed by politicians using sex offenders as scape goats, for votes!

* Registries do NOT protect anyone or prevent crimes!

* Registries are punishing sex offenders as well as their families and children, and opening them up to vigilantism. DON'T THE FAMILIES AND CHILDREN OF SEX OFFENDERS COUNT? They are suppose to be "for the children", right?

* Registries are NOT being updated in a timely fashion, so the public is getting false information! How is this helping the public or protecting them when they cannot rely on them?

* Registries are putting families and children of sex offenders in a public position to be socially outcast and discriminated against with regard to employment, housing, schooling, etc!

* About 90% of the people on the registry are NOT sexual predators or pedophiles that these laws were for in the first place!

* These laws cost millions, if not billions to enforce, and they cause prison over-population, which is already a problem, especially in California! AND TAX PAYERS PAY FOR ALL THIS!

* GPS does not prevent sexual crimes! Another false sense of security which cost tons of money! Plus they are suppose to pay for this, which will eventually go homeless. MAKE THE TAX PAYERS WHO WANT THESE LAWS TO PAY FOR THEM!

* These laws cause sex offenders to go underground and into hiding, due to the strict nature of the laws! How is this protecting anyone?

* These laws are all abount money for law enforcement and votes for politicians. Prison is a business! Politicians are salaried and want elected/re-elected! Law enforcement get paid for people in jails, prisons or on the registry!

* These laws blatantly disregard the United States constitutional rights of all citizens! (i.e. ex-post facto, due process & others)

* These laws are cruel and unusual punishment! A sex offender cannot go to a fast food restaurant which has a playground! Why? We have just as must of a right as you to get a burger! Plus they cannot go anywhere kids congregate, which is endless (i.e. Amusement parks, Movie theaters, the list is endless)

* Sex offenders can go to church, but must leave immediately afterwards. If a sex offender owns a business and someone decides to put a church or school next door, they have to now sell their business and move. This is not right, move the church or school, the sex offender was there first!

* These laws continue to punish people even after a sentence has been served, and they are trying to get on with their lives! (i.e. ex-post facto)

* These laws are driven by fear-mongering, opportunistic politicians and will do nothing to actually protect children!

* There are over one million women and children whose lives are inter-twined with a sex offender in the United Stated. They should matter too!

* Follow the money trail, these laws are conveyor-belt laws to benefit law enforcement! They get paid for the number of people in jail, prison or on the registry!

* They are currently a one-size-fits all for sex offenders! Not all sex offenders are predators or pedophiles that these laws are suppose to be for anyway!

* They are modern day witch hunts and a scarlett letter!

* If Sex Offenders are re-offending, why does the registries grow each day? Because new people are being added daily for stuff like "public urination", "mooning", "concensual sex", "young children playing 'Doctor'" and various other minor offenses that we need not worry about. We need to worry about predators & pedophiles!

* Now they are trying to make it a law that a sex offender, if they have kids, cannot "take a picture" of anyone under 18. This is totally stupid! Can't even take Christmas pictures, birthday pictures, etc!

* Also, because a sex offender owns a business in town, many people are trying to get the business shut down! The sex offender had the business for awhile. If you don't like it, MOVE!!!!

* The Nazi' did this back when Hitler was in power, with the Jews, Turks, etc.

* The thing about pedophiles not being able to take pictures of kids is stupid. You'd better shred any pictures you have of your kids when they were babies, like diaper changing, baths, etc.

Patrick said...

Anon, I think you have left us all speechless. I will try to address some of your points in a future post.

Thanks for your comments and have a nice day.

be said...

V S C, please tell me where you found your information saying the recidivism rate is 90%. The U. S Justice Department Statistices give it as less than 6%.

Patrick said...

Vir, I did read your posts that you mentioned and I think I understand your position. I am not absolutely against capital punishment, nor am I as quick to apply it as you seem to be. Cardinal Martino's comments about Saddam annoy me too. On the other hand, he has been a great friend to pro-life causes so I try to be patient with him.

In many ways, the DP is a kind of sideshow. Even if we round up all those you wish to execute and do away with them tomorrow so they cannot offend again, the number of lives saved will pale in comparison to the number lost to abortion each year.

If we can do something about the evil of abortion and infanticide, we won't have to debate the death penalty - because our society will we be well on the way to re-orienting its moral compass.

Thanks again to all for your very interesting thoughts.