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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

How Many More Children Must Die?

Linda Chavez asks:
How many children must die before lawmakers and the courts decide to keep certain classes of sexual predators behind bars permanently?
What a great question.
On Saturday, Duncan was arrested and charged with kidnapping 8-year-old Shasta Groene, who disappeared, along with her 9-year-old brother Dylan, in May. Shasta's mother, 13-year-old brother, and a family friend were found bound and bludgeoned to death at the family home in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on May 16th. An observant waitress at a local restaurant spotted Duncan and Shasta eating breakfast at 2 a.m. Dylan has yet to be found alive, and police fear that remains uncovered in Montana over the weekend are his.

Duncan is only the latest in a long list of convicted sex offenders who have gone on to commit horrendous crimes after being released from jail. Earlier this year, convicted sex offender John Couey was arrested for the murder of Jessica Lunsford in Florida. While Couey was living across the street from Jessica's home, he is alleged to have taken the 9-year-old from her home, kept her hidden, sexually abused her, and then, according to his own admission, buried her alive. David Onstott, a convicted rapist out on bail for another crime, was charged just one month later with strangling a 13-year-old girl, Sarah Lunde, near her home in Tampa. In May, his jailers found that Onstott had been attempting to dig his way out of his jail cell with a metal towel holder.

The Solution:

The punishment for raping a child ought to be life in prison, period. There ought never to be a second chance for such persons. And while lesser sexual crimes -- fondling or possessing child pornography, for example -- might deserve a second chance, it must come under the most restrictive circumstances: life-long, electronic monitoring. Any second offense of such crimes should earn a life sentence, with no possibility of parole. Does that mean tens of thousands of ex-sexual offenders (some estimates put the number at 500,000) might end up in jail for life? Not likely, since most of these are not pedophiles, the category of sexual offenders least likely to be rehabilitated. But even if we have to build many more jails to keep such criminals behind bars, wouldn't it be worth it to save the lives of children like Jessica, Sarah, and so many others who have died because of our failure to do so?
'Nuff said.

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