Friday, January 05, 2007

Victim advocates oppose sex offender enhancements

Here's something you don't see every day: Prosecutors and victims groups opposing penalty increases and residency restrictions for sex offenders that were so popular during the last election season. Reports the Dallas News ("Child sex bills raising concern," 1-5):

Opponents say many of the changes, proposed in bills filed for the upcoming Legislature, actually could make it harder to get convictions in jury trials and give sex offenders greater incentive to kill young victims.

Other proposals, including increased electronic monitoring and further limits on where sex offenders may live, give the perception of safety but may actually prompt sex offenders to slip below the radar, opponents say.

"Sex offenders, child molesters, they're the topic du jour in criminal justice this session," said Shannon Edmonds, a former prosecutor and director of governmental relations for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. "But just being tough on crime doesn't necessarily advance the ball for public safety."

When even Shannon Edmonds opposes a penalty increase, that means it's a really terrible idea. On balance, prosecutors lobby at the Lege for increased penalties on nearly everything to maximize their leverage during plea bargaining. So for them to come out and say increasing penalties won't "necessarily advance the ball for public safety" should give penalty boosting pols pause.

One has to wonder: Why, oh why can't we have this kind of sensible discussion about crime and punishment during elections? Then it's all demagoguery on crime, and IMO it's a disservice.

For years it has been a biennial rite of passage for nearly all Texas legislators, liberals and conservatives, Republican and Democrat alike, to carry penalty-increasing bills so they can claim to be "tuff on crime" when they ran for re-election. But Texas has pretty much jacked up all our penalties as much as is reasonable - in many cases much more than is reaonable. We shouldn't now pass boldly UNreasonable laws just because legislators can't get out of the political habit of boosting penalties.

2 comments:

igotyourtexas said...

being branded for life via the internet no matter what the offense is beyond extreme in one-time cases not involving children. There are high and low level offenders, their counseling, probation, sentencing and the cost for all these requirements should fit their rankings, which should be carefully determined. Their listings online for lower level offenses should be easily removable at the end of probation. Scared as i was after my situation, i know things weren't as they seemed and he doesn't deserve all that he has to go through because of one night of bad judgment.

Anonymous said...

I watched the recent congressional hearing concerning the federal SORNA ISSUE, AND WHAT STRUCK ME WAS MARK LUNSFORD (FATHER OF JESSICA LUNSFORD FOR WHOM "JESSICA'S LAW WAS NAMED) TESTIFIED; (PARAPHRASED) "YOU HAVE A DEAD CHILD ON ONE HAND, AND SOMEONE WHO MAY NOT NEED TO BE ON THE REGISTRY ON THE OTHER..."
WELL, CONSIDERING THAT AN EXTREMELY SMALL PERCENTAGE OF SEXUALLY ASSAULTED/ABUSED VICTIMS RESULT IN DEATH, IT SEEMS TO ME A CASE OF "APPPLES VRS. ORANGES". I SYMPOTHIZE VERY DEEPLY FOR THE TRAGEDY OF MR. LUNSFORD'S LOSS AND THE TERRIFFYING EXPERIENCE HIS DAUGHTER MUST HAVE ENDURED, HOWEVER, HE IS SPEAKING OF MURDER (FROM A PERSON UNKNOWN TO THE VICTIM WHICH RARELY OCCURS) VS. THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF REGISTRANTS WHO WERE FRIENDS OR RELATIVES OF THEIR VICTIMS WITH THE INCIDENT NOT RESULTING IN THE DEATH OF A CHILD!!!!!! IT IS THESE NATIONALLY PUBLICISED ATTROCITIES THAT PERPETUATE THIS "STRANGER DANGER" LEGISLATION PREVENTING PERSONS AS MYSELF FROM OVERCOMING THE PAST AND MOVING FORWARD TOWARD A FUTURE CONSISTING OF SOMETHING BETTER THAN THE PAST!!!!!