Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Are child molesters rational, or not?

I'm watching the floor debate for HB 8 (aka "Jessica's Law") in the Texas House.

Bill sponsor Rep. Debbie Riddle thinks:

A) HB 8 will "send a message, loud and clear, to child predators" that will prevent their heinous acts,


B) "People who commit this kind of crime do not go around with the same rational reasoning process as you do." "They did not think about it," she said in response to criticisms that giving the death penalty to child molesters made them more likely to kill their victims.

So which is it? Will repeat child molesters learn of HB 8, quaver in their shoes, and change their dastardly ways, or will they not even be aware of the new law and disregard it entirely without drawing the obvious, rational conclusion under the law that they're better off if they murder the witness to the crime, in this case the child victim?

All this came out in debate over Rep. Harold Dutton's amendment to change the maximum penalty to Life Without Parole. What do you think? Would child molesters change their behavior in response to the law, or are they oblivious? I don't think it can be both.

I'm glad to see at least one pro-life member speaking up, btw. Will Hartnett, the Republican Chair of the House Judiciary Committee's questions to Dutton sounded supportive of the LWOP option.

UPDATE: ... And now we wait ... on FOUR points of order as of 3:49 p.m..

NUTHER UPDATE: At 3:57 Rep. Senfronia Thompson brought ANOTHER point of order, so now five by my count. Opponents really came loaded for bear today. And still, we wait some more.

Two points of order were ruled on in the end. The motion to table on Dutton's amendment passed 88-49.

Death penalty for child molesters it its, then, I guess.

FINAL UPDATE (7:10 p.m.): I had to leave for a meeting and returned a little after 7 p.m. to find HB 8 postponed until Monday. I wonder what the hell happened? Apparently a cadre of Republican reps delayed the legislation against the bill sponsor's wishes. Reports the Quorum Report:

Citing the need to get input from local prosecutors, Reps. Dan Gattis, John Smithee, Jerry Madden and others moved to postpone debate until Monday afternoon. Questions raised today ranged from definitions of what acts would be subject to the bill to concerns that the bill could lead more sexual predators to kill their victims. Those arguing for the delay said they supported the legislation but wanted aspects of the bill clarified.

That set them at odds with bill author Rep. Debbie Riddle and Rep. Linda Harper-Brown who said they were worried that any delay would help those trying to kill the bill.

The motion prevailed 131-10.

The Lege is a weird place. Could this be a Sex Offender Switcheroo? Maybe at least they'll fix some of the bill's most obvious problems. More on this, I guess, on Monday.

POSTSCRIPT: Vince also liveblogged the debate at Capitol Annex. The Texas Observer blog has more, Billy Clyde was impressed by John Smittee, and here's some some of the MSM coverage from the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas News, and Austin's KVUE. I predict this bill will pass, but it needs serious amending.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: The ten 'nay' votes on the motion to postpone were: Crabb(R); Guillen(D); Harless(R); Harper-Brown(R); Laubenberg(R); Macias(R); Phillips(R); Raymond(D); Riddle(R); and Talton(R).

In all, 70 Republicans and 61 Democrats voted to postpone the bill.


Anonymous said...

There is NO deterrent, because most SOs (child molesters included) do not see what they do as being wrong. I think you are right though in your assertion that if they are going to get the DP, then there is even less incentive to leave a living child behind. And I wonder if this is in some way tied to the 'need' to destroy DNA evidence. Because if the DAs get it wrong, more people will die, and no one will be able to prove they were innocent.

I am not totally anti the death penalty, but I dont see any reason to implement it for these crimes, UNLESS the child is killed. Now we'll never know if the child may have lived.

One more thing; random child molestation is still relatively uncommon. Most victims know the attacker. Now they will also feel the guilt of contributing to a family member's or close friend's death, when most people agree that victims already feel guilt in some way after an attack.

Anonymous said...

Having watched MSNBC's "To Catch A Preditor" a few times, I'm unhappily convinced that pedophilia is a compulsion and nothing that we are currently doing really impacts the situation. I think that you could impale the child molester on a red hot pocker on national television and it still wouldn't have an inhibiting impact on other child molesters who saw it. There were all sorts of molesters caught by MSNBC who had seen the show before and STRONGLY SUSPECTED it was a setup in which they would be busted, but they couldn't stop themselves. Like an alcoholic or addict, they risked the loss of family and career, but didn't seem able to stop themselves. Probably, there are treatments (aversion therapy?) that could successfully treat pedophiles, but are we really willing to go there? If there is no successful treatment for pedophiles then lock them up forever or put them to death, but if putting them to death makes it more likely they will kill their victims, then lock them up forever.


Oh, there is a way to successfully treat pedophiles: execute them!

Think about the children! Jesus said that for those who harm children, it would be better for them to be drown in the sea with a mill stone hung around their necks (Matthew 18:6)!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

And Joshua, if your thirst for biblical vengeance causes a pedophile to murder a child victim, will you and Jesus be happy with the result? Will you (or more importantly, the child's parents) then wish the Lege had gone with Life Without Parole?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the object is to protect chidren! Criminals are either ignorant of the law, act out of inpulse or plan their crime to avoid punishment. In the later case, they would quite likely kill the victim!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you all the way, Joshua! Jesus will approve of stiffer penalties for child molestors. Listen you guys, if you were to study God's laws in the Bible (and they are truly the benchmark for justice) you would find that God never made laws out of fear of what the criminal would do. Nor should we fear the criminal. The criminal should be made to fear us! Our nation will never improve justice and protection of innocents if they fear what criminals will do because of stiffer penalties. There were many death penalties in God's Law, and God says that the reason they were created were for the express purpose of deterring further transgression of those crimes and to purge the land of wickedness. God demands justice be carried out in the world, and he appoints government as his agency to carry it out.

Again, we the innocents should not have to live in fear of the criminals. They should have to live in fear of us. We must make laws based on principle and then trust God. If a molestor decides to kill his victim in fear of the death penalty, that does not put a just law at fault. It only puts the offendor more at fault and worthy of the death penalty. We can't be wimps when it comes to establishing justice in our nation. We must be strong and courageous to do the right thing even when others will not. I am a parent of 3 small children. If one of my children is molested/raped, you can bet I would want that offendor to get the death penalty- even if it means he might decide to do worse and kill them (he might have anyway). Not only that, but I would want the death penalty for any rape that is an iron-clad conviction (first time), or any kidnapping (first time). It is our softness on crime that has allowed crime to increase. Death penalty DOES deter in nations where it is consitently applied. Listen, Parenting 101 teaches us that discipline must be consistent. Inconsistently disciplining your kids will not produce a well-behaved child. It only teaches them that you don't mean business. Our nation has yet to apply the death penalty in a consistent fashion to see its true power for deterrence. I am tied to no political party. I am tied to my Creator and Judge and believe in his ways and have seen them WORK! I have at the same time seen our nation's ways- the ways most of you prescribe, NOT WORK.

Anonymous said...

Life in prison without parole not death.

Not that I don't think real child molestors would deserve it, but what if somebody was falsely convicted of molesting a child?

Anonymous said...

child molesters are sick animals. does anybody know what the statue of limitation is on child molesting.i know of a young man who has been locked up for a crime he didnt do. he has served 10 yrs now with 7 to go while the real baby raper runs the streets.this boy was 11 and a half at the time. his stepfather molested his little sister for three yrs. they turned the tables on this little boy. he is now serving time for what this son of a b---h did. texas is telling us too bad he will have to serve out the time. thats 7 more yrs.what in gods name is wrong with this lousy state. by the way this is my grandson we are talking about. if anybody out there can help i would appreciate it. thank you ladywolf