Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tough on Crime

There is a great editorial in today's Dallas Morning News about the tough on crime politicians in Texas and the so called Jessica's laws:
The worst idea floated in Austin would have Texas join five other states and
allow the death penalty for sex crimes against children. As unforgivable as that
crime is, it doesn't warrant a harsher penalty than simple murder, which brings
five years to life. Execution for sex crimes – the proposal applies to repeat
offenders – would badly warp the proportionality of the state's criminal-justice
code. It also would pose the dangerous possibility of offenders killing their
sexual prey to eliminate witnesses.
The editorial also talks about the problems with the minimum mandatory sentences:
Today's big push for even tougher laws is fraught with risks of unintended
consequences. One example is a proposed new layer of mandatory sentencing: 25
years on the first aggravated sex offense against a child, up from today's range
of two years to life. Experts warn that severe, inflexible sentences rob
prosecutors of the ability to plea bargain; that could result in lost
convictions in cases where prosecutors couldn't get useful testimony from child
victims but had no choice but to go to trial.

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