January 10, 2007
Lots of sentencing in ABA Journal
I just received my copy of the January 2007 ABA Journal, and I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of sentencing articles. The now appear available here, and include:
- A Deal with Death: More states make child molestation a capital crime—and face likely challenges
- Death Be Not So Complicated: U.S. Supreme Court addresses fairness of four sentencing hearings
- Scarlet Letter Sentencing: Judges may feel more free to craft sentences that suit the crime (need to scroll from link to get to this).
January 10, 2007 at 01:32 PM | Permalink
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"A Deal With Death" demonstrates again the callus use of victims' rights. Leaving aside for the moment the increased danger of murdering the child to silence him/her, and leaving aside the devastating label of of a child with a "killed soul," what of the consequences to the child who later realizes his/her testimony contributed to a state sanctioned homicide? How can a child who isn't mature enough to consent to sex be mature enough to aid and abet in this execution?
What will the future psychological ramifications be? Will they contribute to a "killed soul" or will "closure" help heal? Would it depend on the child as he/she matures? How can the State predict how that understanding will evolve?
That the politicians fail to ask these questions is evidence enough that their concern is not for victims, but is for their own sense of punitopia and political gain. Victims be damned.
Posted by: George | Jan 10, 2007 3:31:01 PM
George, I think a lot of sentencing laws are written without much understanding of the consequences. Legislators want to be seen as "doing something about child molesters." Practically any law that increases the penalty on practically any kind of offender will usually attract strong public support — even where, as here, the law could have pretty significant drawbacks for the potential victims.
It will be interesting to see what happens in the Supreme Court. There could very well be five Justices who believe that the states have a constitutional right to punish other crimes with death besides murder.
Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jan 10, 2007 3:46:20 PM
I tend to agree that the death penalty for child molesters is a bad idea from a public policy perspective--for any number of reasons, not the least of which are the issues that George raises. The other is the false positive issue. However, (a) the punishment is not barred by the constitution and (b) sexual predators deserve to die.
Posted by: federalist | Jan 10, 2007 3:46:35 PM
I tend to agree that the death penalty for child molesters is an excellent idea for everyone involved. The reason why is because the victims will be psychologically harmed no matter which way you handle it and wouldn't it make sense to remove the fear of the molester coming out of jail and doing it again? Perhaps this will allow the victim to heal without the fear of the child molester being released to hurt her again.
Posted by: Dawn Dodge | Jan 11, 2007 8:58:48 AM
Dawn, what about the issue of incentivizing the killing of children? That's a big reason why this may be ill-advised.
Posted by: federalist | Jan 11, 2007 10:10:46 AM
Hmm, death penalty for child molesters. I would add to that  people who talk on the commuter railroad on their cell fones too loud,  tail gate drivers,  people who wear white after Labor Day,  Red Sox fans,  anyone who watches The Apprentice, and  knee-jerk right wing nuts. I guess the philosophy can be summed up in: kill 'em all, and let god sort them out.
Posted by: Bernie Kleinman | Jan 12, 2007 5:37:05 PM