Friday, October 20, 2006

DNA tests may clear man convicted in case that spawned "Ashley's Laws"

This from AP:
The man convicted of killing 7-year-old Ashley Estell in 1993, a crime that prompted tough laws against sex offenders, is arguing in a new motion that DNA evidence proves he is innocent.

"Given the nature of this evidence ... his actual innocence can hardly be disputed," death row inmate Michael Blair's attorney Phil Wischkaemper said in Wednesday editions of The Dallas Morning News.

Blair was convicted in 1998 of molesting and strangling Ashley after she was abducted from a suburban Dallas soccer field. The case sparked the Legislature to pass tough sexual-predator measures called "Ashley's Laws." The measures require longer prison terms and public registration for sex offenders.

So the case that spawned Texas' sex offender registration laws appears to have been based on a situation that caused a wrongful conviction! The vengeful sentences and lifetime registration requirements passed by the Legislature were created to spite someone who likely wasn't responsible for the crime.

Today, about 45,000 people are registered in Texas' public sex offender database under that law. I wonder how many of them are in the same boat?

UPDATE: See more from Corrections Sentencing on sex offender laws, plus additional links from Sentencing Law and Policy.

17 comments:

celtictexan said...

The measures require longer prison terms and public registration for sex offenders.

So because one man might be innocent (then again he might have been a participant) the law itself is bad? Along with legal anything in the way of drugs, perhaps child molesters should be given free rein also?

Today, about 45,000 people are registered in Texas' public sex offender database under that law. I wonder how many of them are in the same boat?

Probably the ones who refuse to give DNA samples.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Actually it's a terrible law. It casts its net waaay too broadly and harms public safety by diffusing supervision resources and engendering false security among the public.

The fact that they originally passed the law based on a misunderstood case just means Texas has never had a handle on what to do about this problem.

We reflexively try to get "tough," and don't seem to care if the outcomes make us safe or not. Your views in crime, IMO, are typical of the politicians in charge, and help explain why that's so.

celtictexan said...

It casts its net waaay too broadly

I can certainly agree with this. I think I commented here on that before. The registry should for the most part only include child molesters and stranger rape cases. And should explain in detail what the charge was. Then Again IMHO they should have been executed or at least locked away for life in the first place. Then things like this might not happen twice. Things like Jessica Lunsford. And many many other litlle girls and boys.

Anonymous said...

You're right, the Lege never understood this issue from the beginning, and they still don't.

Most of this is for show, so Florence Shapiro can look tough and get re-elected.

celtictexan said...

You're right, the Lege never understood this issue from the beginning, and they still don't.

Unfortunately the US SC understands it even less.

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/LAW/04/16/scotus.virtual.child.porn/

Anonymous said...

Celtic I looked at the article you cite, and I wonder how much you understand. Who is harmed by COMPUTER GENERATED porn?

The court wrote: "Pictures of what appear to be a 17-year-old engaging in sexually explicit activity do not in every case contravene community standards."

I couldn't agree more. Especially when the 17-year old is computer generated. Animation is not a sex offense.

123txpublicdefender123 said...

We've known for years that the guy on death row for killing Ahsley of "Ashley's Law" was not guilty. Most of the DNA evidence has been around for quite a while. But, neither the prosecutor nor the courts give a damn. The guy on death row is an admitted pedophile currently doing life sentences for cases he admitted and pled guilty to after his conviction in Ashley's murder. So, he is not going anywhere. But the Collin County DA still insists on killing him for a crime he didn't commit.

Celtictexan said...

Anonymous said.."Pictures of what appear to be a 17-year-old engaging in sexually explicit activity do not in every case contravene community standards."

Of course to the former Democrap placed liberal court nothing contravened community standards.

I don't think you understand the full implications. Perhaps you and the people of your community think photos of a 17 yr old engaged in sex are OK. But the full implication, and the web now has many examples, is that what appear to be children of 8, or 9, engaged in sex with adults and each other. Just search Lolita or some other such term. (of course form the tone of your argument you may already know this). I can't believe you don't see the connection with a pedophile veiwing this and, the rise in child kidnap/rape/murder, that has happened in the last few years. There is a long debate about this on Ivorydome.us. So yeah, let's sell crack legaly, provide plenty of child porn and everything will get better. What a sick world you support.

123txpublicdefender123 said...The guy on death row is an admitted pedophile currently doing life sentences for cases he admitted and pled guilty to after his conviction in Ashley's murder. So, he is not going anywhere. But the Collin County DA still insists on killing him for a crime he didn't commit.

Perhaps if it had been your daughter you might feel differently.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 123publicdefender, what if it was your daughter whose murderer was still out there because the Collin County DA wouldn't admit a mistake? How would you feel? (snark)

That's telling 'em, Celtic Texan.

By the way, do you know what "computer generated" means? It's not the same as "photos." Think XXX-box.

iwthykj said...

By the way, do you know what "computer generated" means? It's not the same as "photos." Think XXX-box.

Yeah think X-box and 8 and 9 year olds are ok with you?

Yeah, 123publicdefender, what if it was your daughter whose murderer was still out there because the Collin County DA wouldn't admit a mistake? How would you feel? (snark)


I speaking of killing all pedophiles first offence.

So you want to release them, protect their past and provide them with plenty of child porn (real or not) drugs, and then what?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To the proposal of "killing all pedophiles on the first offense," that's ridiculous - most pedophiles are family members, so if you did that most such crimes would almost certainly never be reported to the authorities.

That's another example of how "tuff" sentences often make the public less safe. It lets proponents feel really macho, but makes kids more likely to be molested. The rhetoric sounds good, though, at least so long as it never gets past sound bite form.

Celtictexan said...

So letting them go after short sentances, giving them legal drugs and hiding their identity, is the answer?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No one said that, Celtic. You should respond to what people say instead of making up straw men to argue against.

celtictexan said...

I am quoting exact comments. It's been said that the registry is wrong. (I agree to a point) Get tough policies harm public safety, legal virtual porn is a good thing, a correct SC ruleing, and that drugs should all be legal. What exactly have I missed?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

You agree to a point about the registries. The get tough policies ARE the registry laws, so you're taking both sides of this position, disingenuously, IMO.

In addition, no one said that legal virtual porn is "good," just that it's constitutionally protected, (the Supreme Court took into account, as you don't, that children aren't exploited in its production). Finally, you brought drugs into the subject, no one else. That's actually also true of the USSC case.

For these reasons, you're clearly attacking a straw man that doesn't exist - a set of opinions no one has expressed. Honestly, and I don't mean any disrespect, but that's true of about 75% of your comments here, IMO, arguing against some idea in your head of what a liberal believes instead of anything actually written.

Some days I find it amusing. For some reason, not today, though.

Celtictexan said...

(the Supreme Court took into account, as you don't, that children aren't exploited in its production)Some days I find it amusing. For some reason, not today, though.

Real kids or not, cause and effect dude. Definetly not amusing or a reflexion of the founders intent.

Anonymous said...

The law is bad because it is unconstitutional. it is double jeopardy, and illegal continuation of punishment after sentence completion. let's just throw away the constitution because you are afraid.