The Problem With Jessica's Law
Yesterday I missed out on the blogosphere, and therefore missed out on the discussion of mandatory sentencing for child molesters. I hate coming late to the party, but I really need to go on record.
I believe that mandatory sentences for any crime are a gross abuse of our legal system.
I believe that any time a mandatory sentence is invoked for any crime we have turned from a society of law into a mob on a witch hunt.
Allow me to explain.
The purpose of the justice system is not to exact revenge. The purpose of the justice system is to punish those who have done wrong. The sad and simple truth is there is no punishment that will mend any sense of violation a victim has. Nor is it meant to. I could go on and on about the outdated philosophy of wergild, and how our legal system was revolutionary for assessing an equal value to all lives by dismissing the concept of vengence from our sentencing structure. But that would be eggheadedly pointless, boring as dried dog snot and of interest only to me and maybe three other people.
So allow me to say this:
A mandatory sentence doesn't allow any room for the law to show mercy. It robs the judicial system of absolute justice.
When people think of mandatory sentences for molesters, they imagine locking the door forever on some fellow who fondles little girls on the kindergarten playground.
What they don't realise is that a 17-year old boy who has sex with his 16-year old girlfriend could be convicted of the same crime and under a mandatory sentencing law would receive the same jail term, chemical castration and other penalties as the kiddie-diddling Aqualung. The judges' hands would be tied.
I have no illusions about the depths of sickness in the mind and actions of any sex offender. As we learn more about the human mind and the human animal I have become very much in favour of creating a new criminal class and penal structure for sex offenses. I think things like chemical castration and residential restriction are very good ideas. By all means rob these men and women of their sex drive and make sure they can't live within a certain distance of a school. I am also quite insistent that we remove the statute of limitations on sex crimes, especially as these crimes often involve children who are unable or unwilling to testify until they reach maturity. We should definitely make sentences stricter, too. There are a thousand ways to make the voices of victims heard without removing the blindfold from Justice.