I was going to write a response to earlier responses. . .
. . . But it got so long that I have to make it into another post.
First, thank you all for the wonderful comments. I apologize for the clerical errors in my other posts, but if I don't catch clerical error immediately after I've written the post, I can only modify it for a short time after I post it. I see them now and the errors are glaring - I will try to do better in the future. But I would much rather post SOMETHING, even if it has errors, than sit on my words until they are, well, perfect. And I seriously doubt what I say will EVER be perfect.
I first want to respond to Pat Dazis, who responded to the last post about 3 strikes and the prison crisis. Pat Dazis said that his(her?) son was killed by someone who eventually got 75 to life, and called that person a monster. What can I say other than I am so very sorry for Pat's loss. I hope and pray to God that my family never suffers from such an abhorrent criminal act as your family has suffered. The fact that Pat is willing to respond to such a discussion, and respond with equanimity, coherence and some compassion, shows great character on Pat's part. I would think that suffering from such a terrible crime would make a person want to imprison ANYONE convicted of ANYTHING for life (or give them the death penalty). Pat clearly disproves this thought with Pat's fair discussion. Thank you, Pat.
I will point out to Pat that Pat's comment about sex offenders and pedophiles, which although I disagree with it, I do not disagree with it entirely. Pat suggested that very low level offenders be taken off the sex offender registry, with which I agree, but then went on about dangerous pedophiles whole molest anyone, male or female. This is overblown and is at the heart of sex-offender hysteria. We have trouble finding out who really is a pedophile. Is it the priest at the church? The YMCA leader? The teacher? The criminal breaking into homes? We don't know. But the truth is that sex offenses are still uncommon, and the most prevalent sex offense is between older men (sometimes women, but usually men) and girls and/or boys. Not forcible sex offenses, but molest-type sex offenses.
One point that ought to be considered - many states, like New York, have an age of consent that is 16. We prosecute in this state many men for such sex that in other states is not a crime. Something to consider.
Did you know that the recidivism rate for sex offenders is LOWER for most other offenders? Lots of research shows this. It is true that there are a small number of really bad people out there, but in our haste to catch those few really bad people, we are willing to scoop up a large number of not-so-bad people and screw them. Michale Mullen murdered two sex offenders in 2006 in Washington, and was on his way to kill a 3rd when he was caught. He found those names on the sex offender registry that all offenders had to register in, and that registry was made public. Those two murders were very preventable, and were caused solely by the fact that their names and addresses were handily available on the web. How is that fair?
In California sex offenders can now live no closer than 2000 feet from a school, park, or other place where kids gather. This is the result of Jessica's Law, passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2006. Is this fair? Where do these people live? Los Angeles County loves the result of this initiative because now their sex offenders have to live somewhere else - no sex offender can be placed within their county. In a way it is good, because now, finally, there is an incentive for a city to build schools, parks and libraries: it keeps the sex offenders out. On the other hand, maybe this might be a good trade off - we sacrifice those members of our society we don't like and get some schools, parks and libraries in trade. Not a bad deal, huh? But we all know what will really happen - no new anything, just another class of citizens scapegoated and marginalized.
What we need is a registration system that is confidential, and that works. Once the offender has done his prison time, he can go about rebuilding his life. Make him wear tracking bracelet if you must, but only for a couple of years. Make him register for the rest of his life, but keep the list confidential - only law-enforcement officials get to see it. In Florida there are sex offenders living under bridges because they aren't allowed to live anywhere. How can that offender ever be expected to rehabilitate and become a productive member of society when treated like that. If our society keeps treating sex offenders like this, then perhaps we should save everyone the time and money and just shoot them. And if you do, let me so that I can flee with my family to another country. You know, 'first they came for the Jews and I said nothing, because I wasn't Jewish. When they eventually came for me I tried to say something, but there was no one left to hear me.'
There are going to be crimes committed in our country and our state - we will always need a criminal justice system. But the more we spend on prisons, on draconian sentencing laws, on wiretapping American citizens looking for fictional terrorists, the less we have for everyone else. And the more damage suffers our precious Constitution, that revered document written with the blood of patriots.
I hope that people realize that today's sex offenders/criminals/terrorists are pretty darn similar to yesterday's communists, anarchists, socialists, and labor union activists. They are all scapegoats in many ways. 30 years ago molestation was usually treated as a misdemeanor in California, and rape wasn't much of a crime. Those days are long gone, and I agree that they should be. But we have now gone so far the other way that we are coming perilously close, I would argue that we have already gotten there, to the point of being a fascist society. How we treat the least of us, those convicted of crimes, shows what kind of government we have. As of now, folks, we have truly become more of a fascistic government than we ought to.
The Guest PD Blogger