Monday, May 17, 2010

Slippery Slope

Let me start this by saying that sexual predators are one of the few groups that I viscerally hate.  I'm a pretty forgiving guy, but if you violate a woman or a child, then you are no longer human to me.  You deserve all the punishment that you get sentenced for, and while I don't necessarily agree with the death penalty, I'll make an exception for rape or child molestation.  I also understand that pedophilia is something that has never shown much promise as a treatable mental condition.

That being said, I'm disturbed with the announcement today that the Supreme Court is OK with the continued detention of sexual offenders, even after they have finished their sentences.

My take on it is this:  if someone is psychologically unable to be a safe member of society as demonstrated by past bad acts, then hold an inquest, prove to the court that they are dangerous to the community at large because of a mental condition, and have them committed for treatment.  Come back periodically and prove to the court that said person is still not fit to mix with society in general  If you can't prove that and just want them locked up because you're worried they might do something horrible again, then you don't meet my standard for taking away someone's liberty.

One other way we could get around this is to allow for life sentences with no parole for sexual assault or child molestation.  If the government feels that sexual offenders need never walk the streets again, then put them away for life at the beginning.  Then let the courts decide if that punishment is "cruel and unusual".

Giving the government the power to put people away because they are afraid they might offend again is a slippery slope I'm not willing to take the country down.

If they feel that a drug dealer is likely to go back to peddling dope on the streetcorner, thereby harming the community, can they put him away forever?

What about the young man who robs a liquor store as a teenager, but may get his life together after serving his sentence?  Should he be sent to prison forever because a certain percentage of young males who knock over liquor stores as teenagers become habitual criminals?

The government should not be able to look at a person who has committed a crime and decide that, because they may re-offend, they should be locked up indefinitely.  Either follow existing mental inquest procedures, or lock them up for life from the get-go.

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