Jessica’s Law. Getting Tough? Or, Knee Jerk Reaction?

As more and more states pass what is known as Jessica’s Law, named after the tragic and heinous murder of Jessica Lundsford in Florida, have we actually looked at these laws? Or, just taken Bill O’Reilly’s word for their effectiveness?

 

I am troubled by the haste with which some of these are being pressed into law without due consideration. At one recent time, Florida considered issuing pink license plates to sexual offenders. That alone opens a Pandora’s box of troubles, not the least of which is possible suits filed by groups like the ACLU over freedoms. Now, Child Protection Laws are being pushed under the guise of “getting tough” on sexual predators.

 

Oregon currently has a citizen’s initiative pending and is being pushed by Conservatives and child advocates. On the surface, these laws sound good and appear to be getting tough, all right. But, is it good law that will actually improve anything? Or, just another knee jerk reaction that will result in a larger bureaucracy costing millions of extra dollars in tax revenues and accomplishes little?

 

Before looking close at this law, let me say I abhor sexual predators and no punishment can equal what they have stolen from the child. It is also my understanding that child sexual predators cannot be “cured” or rehabilitated, making them a danger to society. Something definitely needs done about them, for sure. I’m just not convinced Jessica’s Law will accomplish what it claims to.

 

In Oregon’s Law, it starts off stating, “Whereas the Oregon Legislature did not pass legislation during the 2005 legislative session to protect Oregon’s children.” Automatically, it appears to be written because a group that isn’t satisfied with the actions of their elected Legislature. Sort of, “if they won’t do their job, we will,” type of vigilantism.

 

Reading down through the law, it disturbs me that these “strengthened measures” only apply if the victim is aged “under 12 years of age.” Will the crime be less heinous if committed to a 13 year old?

 

The law requires a “minimum sentencing of 25 years.” Sounds good enough. But, there is another sentence in this section that should greatly disturb everyone. Section 1, paragraph D contains the following, “The person is not eligible for any reduction in, or based on, the minimum sentence for any reason whatsoever under ORS 421.121 or any other statute.” For any reason WHATSOEVER?

 

In divorces, it has become almost a norm for estranged husbands to be accused of child molestation. In stepfamilies, it isn’t unusual for a stepdaughter to falsely accuse her step-dad of molestation. Often times, it becomes incumbent upon that man to prove he did not commit the crime he is accused of, not the states responsibility to prove he did commit it. Once convicted, does the above preclude the stepdaughter recanting her claim or evidence coming out that he was actually innocent?

 

While the intent of the law is to take sexual predators off our streets for 25 years, are we inadvertently giving someone disliking a man a law to use to get rid of him where he has little or no defense? Witch Hunts against child molesters isn’t new. Wenatchee Washington has one of the most well known examples where a lot of innocent people ended up imprisoned. Dade County, Florida, under the direction of Janet Reno, prior to being appointed Attorney General of the United States, is another. Her actions sent an innocent man to prison for years for a molestation he did not commit, ruining his life as a Dade County Police Officer and ending his marriage, as well as destroying his family. Would Jessica’s Law have prevented the truth coming out and freeing Grant Snowden after 12 years of imprisonment?

 

Another troubling aspect to me is the requirement of lifetime post imprisonment supervision, to include GPS tracking. If the person is still a danger, why in the hell is he released from prison at all? Psychiatric hospitalizations aren’t an alternative to imprisonment nor are medical workers jailers. So, sending them to State Mental Hospitals isn’t an alternative answer. Nor, by most accounts, can they be cured. So, why are they released at all?

 

Our laws consider a completed prison sentence as “a debt to society paid.” Under Jessica’s law, no debt can be repaid to society if the person is to be continually monitored for the rest of their life. And again, if they are dangerous enough to require supervision, why are they released at all?

 

And also, “GPS Tracking?” What good does that do? Place the released and supervised predator at the scene of a crime? Isn’t this like closing the barn door after the cow escapes? Does it change anything if a child is harmed and a GPS tracking device places a released and supervised criminal there? A child will still be harmed!

 

What stops a released and supervised criminal from simply cutting the device off and disappearing into society, ready to strike again? Hasn’t this already happened in Florida? Once again, why are these dangerous predators even released from prison if they require this sort of supervision?

 

It is said that the Death Penalty does not deter murder and capital crimes. Now, some of these same people think stiffer and tougher sentencing will deter sexual predators? Who will be monitoring and supervising the released predators? The already over burdened Social Services? Over burdened Police? A whole new bureaucracy costing extra millions in taxes? What will it even deter, if one can simply cut off the GPS tracking device and simply wander away?

 

And again, what of the falsely accused innocent men caught up in divorces or step family situations? An Attorney friend once told me, they were taught in Law School “it is better for 10 guilty men to go free rather than one innocent man to go to prison.” I don’t see any provision for that concept.

 

To me, if a predator does murder a child, as in the case of Jessica Lundsford, he should pay with his own life, as will the person who murdered her. But, not 25 years down the road. If convicted on indisputable evidence, I feel the sentence should be imposed within one year. If the evidence isn’t indisputable, then life without parole, leaving a window for possible evidence of innocence to be found. But, that’s just my layman’s opinion.

 

Jessica’s Law might be a step in the right direction, but I feel it needs modification and a lot of input. Measures need to be there for the possibility of falsely accused people whose name can be later cleared as well as measures to ensure an actual crime was committed. I am not a lawmaker, just someone with an opinion that can also see problems with the way this law is written.

 

We need to crack down severely where child predators are harming children, but knee jerk laws are not the answer. All to often, they end up hurting the very people they are designed to protect and place a burden on communities that is just too costly. We need laws to be balanced and fair to all. Predators have no place in our society, under supervision with GPS tracking devices or not. We do not need any more burdensome laws that will not curb or stop crime, either.

 

One of the first steps that needs to be taken before implementation of new laws is to free parents to raise and supervise their children under their own values, without interference from “do gooders” that feel they and they alone know best.

 

Lew

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2 Responses to “Jessica’s Law. Getting Tough? Or, Knee Jerk Reaction?”

  1. Unknown Says:

    And interesting thing with the Jessica laws, is that  James Couey the accused despite all the media blitz claiming it was so– is that he had never been convicted, arrested or even accused of a sex crime against a child, and the same can be said many others whom the media and law enforcement made the claim about–such as Floridas Jimmy Ryce law, or the Jacob Wetterling law–and the claim that James Couey was a registered sex offender, yet didn\’t appear on the list until weeks after he was arrested. Laws have to change and be repealed.

  2. LEW Says:

    Hi Glenn, thanks for your comment. It\’s obvious we need to do something. Adding another law that appears to be flawed won\’t work.
     
    For example, just last night, a 17 year old girl was stabbed to death in a McDonalds here by a 28 year old registered sex offender, allegedly with a  history of mental disease. No rhyme nor reason behind it, he just walked in and stabbed her. He has been arrested beofre for attepting to kidnap a 14 year old girl (I believe) and received 90 days! Jessica\’s Law would not have stopped this either as the kidnapped girl was 14, too old. A GPS device would have placed him at the scene of the crime, but they had witnesses, one following where he went afterwards until Police could met up and arrest the assailant. Still, the girl would be dead.
     
    I find it hard to believe there was no warning signs if this man has a history of mental disorder. Which brings me back to, why are they releasing dangerous people back into society? Somebody droppped the ball and now a family must endure the brutal murder of their 17 year old daughter.

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