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June 9, 2012

"Should Sex Offenders Be Buried With Military Honors?"

The question in the title of this post is the headline of this piece at BuzzFeed. Here are excerpts:

On Halloween night of 2001, James Allen Selby broke into the home of a recent college graduate named Jenny, hid in a closet until she returned, then dragged her into the shower and raped her.  He was convicted of this and at least 10 other rapes and sexual assaults, including one of a nine-year-old girl. But after he committed suicide in prison, he was buried with full military honors at Fort Sill National Cemetery in Oklahoma.  Now victims, and some military advocates, want a ban on sex offenders in military cemeteries so criminals like Selby can never be honored like that again.

At a House hearing Wednesday, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) told the story of a constituent who was sexually abused as a child by her father, a veteran who was later buried in a military cemetery.  Said Hartzler, "She asked that I help ensure no other child has to endure this injustice."  Hartzler has introduced the Hallowed Grounds Act, which would bar Tier III sex offenders — those who have committed crimes against children — from being buried in veterans' or national cemeteries.  She argued, "These offenders have surrendered their right to be honored by victimizing and oppressing others."

The bill has the support of a variety of military and veterans' groups.  Raymond Kelley, legislative director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said in the hearing that the Hallowed Grounds Act would be an appropriate extension of existing laws that bar those convicted of capital crimes (those punishable by death, such as murder) from military burial.  Thomas Murphy of the Veterans Benefits Administration also voiced support for the substance of the bill, though he had some logistical concerns about his implementation.

The Army is actually against the bill, but only because it doesn't go far enough. Kathryn Condon, Executive Director of Army National Cemeteries Program, said at the hearing that the Army couldn't support the bill as drafted because it failed to ban "the interment or memorialization of a person found by an appropriate federal authority to have committed a tier III sex offense, but not yet convicted."

But Richard Wright, a professor of criminal justice and author of the book Sex Offender Laws: Failed Policies, New Directions, says the bill is wrongheaded.  He says it's part of a trend in the last 20 to 25 years of "post-conviction laws" targeted specifically at Tier III offenders, but says these laws don't actually accomplish much.  Our criminal justice system, he says, now operates under the belief that "in order for the victim to get justice, something extra has to be done to the offender."  But in fact, offering extra help to the victim — counseling, for instance — is more beneficial to victims' healing processes than additional punishments for the criminal.

June 9, 2012 at 10:55 AM | Permalink

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Comments

While I understand that people do not want to honor rapists and icky pervs, even by my standards this is kind of riduculous since people seem to want to exclude dead icky pervs from cemetaries. Are they afraid that the icky pervs and rapists will continue to rape after death???

Erika :)

Posted by: Erika | Jun 9, 2012 1:04:08 PM

Busybody legislation at its finest. Apparently there are no greater issues facing the nation that we need to worry about whether or not someone who is listed as a Tier III sex offender should receive military honors for their service.

The big problem with the bill, of course, is the same problem that the registry faces: trying to make individualized distinctions on the basis of broad-based static categories. All that being a Tier III sex offender means (at least in AWA compliant states) is that you've been convicted of a listed offense. That's it. It has no bearing on how long ago that was, the facts of your case, whether you were actually adjudged high or low risk in a risk assessment -- it's just the statute that you were convicted under.

That being the case, I'm sure there's a great variety of individual variation within the class of Tier III sex offenders. There are going to be some folks like in the OP, but as data have shown, they tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Most people aren't going to have committed crimes nearly that reprehensible, and I'd be willing to bet that most people listed as Tier III (as newspapers breathlessly report, "the most likely to reoffend) sex offenders, never actually reoffend.

Furthermore, what about the person who's crime is decades old? Who works hard to rehabilitate and restore his reputation and honor? I know the pat response is that these people have forever forfeited whatever rights that we can think of next to strip away and don't deserve a shot at redemption, blah blah blah, yada yada yada -- but that's just one less incentive to actually try to do things differently.

But then, when has sex offender legislation ever really been about protecting the public?

Posted by: Guy | Jun 9, 2012 3:08:02 PM

Yet more proof that this is a hysterical witch hunt. Sex offenders must be punished even in death. Perhaps we should not allow their bodies to be buried within 2000 feet of a school or park. Or perhaps their gravestones should bear special markers so that locals can vandalize and spit on them. Better yet, don't let sex offenders enjoy the privilege of burial at all. Why should they be treated as other human beings?

Where does it end? There is a new law almost every week to further punish sex offenders. Just how far can a civil society go toward dehumanizing people, especially after they have served their time?

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Jun 9, 2012 3:33:24 PM

Are bank robbers, murderers, embezzlers, or anybody else accused or convicted of a crime buried with military honors?

Posted by: Obvious | Jun 9, 2012 3:41:26 PM

Maybe I'm missing something but why should a serial rapist receive military honors after death when their actions in life dishonored their uniform?

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jun 9, 2012 8:16:43 PM

Why should anyone who has done anything wrong (criminal, moral) be accorded any credit for anything good they have done? How about the thousands upon thousands of veterans that have stolen, abused substances, cheated on their taxes? Why is a crime never forgotten or repaid, but a good deed--the extraordinary deed of serving one's country--easily negated and disregarded?

Military honors should reward military service. Prison punishes criminal behavior. If someone has served their time, I don't see why their military service should be forgotten. Where does your argument end? At what point do we finish punishing a person? When is it enough?

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Jun 9, 2012 8:37:01 PM

@AnonymousOne
How is this any different than being stripped of military honors, pay and other benefits when you are convicted of committing a crime in uniform? Both negate your military service. And really, smoking pot and cheating on your taxes is not in the same league as raping 10 women and girls.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jun 9, 2012 9:05:09 PM

Mike,

1) Raping 10 women and girls is not what most people end up as sex offenders for doing.
2) Arguing that smoking pot and cheating on taxes is not in the same league merely avoids the question. Why should any criminal be deserving of an honor?
3) One key difference is that this proposal would remove burial rights for those whose offenses preceded or postdated military service. So this is not quite like committing a crime while in uniform. Literally committing a crime while in uniform might dishonor it. But I don't see that connection otherwise.
4) Again, where do we stop. Should sex offenders be allowed to receive any public recognition for anything good they have done. Is it wrong to thank one for holding a door open for an elderly person? Can I tip the sex offender that carries my bags to the car at a supermarket? Can I show appreciation for the sex offender that donates a kidney so my child can survive?

How much revenge is necessary? Prison, residency restrictions, homelessness, joblessness, and pariah status are not enough. now we need to have revenge on corpses too.

AO

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Jun 9, 2012 10:53:10 PM

I am a registered sex offender. Adjudication was withheld in my case. I am not a felon nor were there any misdemeanor charges. I vote and pay taxes and have done so most of my life. Of course, the Sex Offender Registry has deprived me from employment and I have been forced to move by hateful folks like Ms Hartler on numerous occasions. Basically, I live in fear of any sort of reprisal from people like Ms Hartler, law enforcement and, of course, state and federal legislators, judges, jurors and others unfamiliar with the distorted information provided by news reporters, journalists and other politicians. It has been almost 10 years and I have not so much as a parking ticket. At age 55 I plead guilty and arranged for a 5 year probation rather than risk 10 years in prison at my age. I completed my probation without incident and satisfied all the requirements demanded of me. By the way, I did not have a victim. I served in combat with the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1966 - 1967. Vicky Hartzler has no idea what my service was like and that my life was on the line daily to protect the freedom she enjoys so that she can deprive me of my military service to my country if she has her way. There is no other crime this woman considers. She is only interested in perusing sex offenders who, by the way, maintain the lowest recidivism rate of any criminal group,at 3 to 5% over a 5 year period. Furthermore, 98% of the sex offenders were usually a family member that was commonly familiar with their victim. I believe that Vicky Hartzler is a bitter, hateful, cruel, unfair and unjust overly righteous female who abuses her political office and her constituents at any cost. She is currently running again for office and, in my opinion, does not qualify to serve as a government official at any level of government. Well, maybe she would qualify to work for the sanitation department.

Posted by: Lance | Jun 9, 2012 11:23:11 PM

Oh yes, DAB! I am a citizen with no affiliation to any of the classifications posted in your blog. I worked in health care most of my life until I was railroaded into a guilty plea by a biased judge, an incompetent black, female public defender, who I learned later was pregnant and seemed willing not to defend me. There is much more to my case but I think I made my point.

Posted by: Lance | Jun 9, 2012 11:28:31 PM

@AnonymousOne
1)We're talking about an especially aggravated case, not what 'most' sex offenders are convicted of.
2)Not really, the crimes are clearly different.
3)Your activities as a veteran reflect on your military career and vice versa. Plenty of criminal defendants have remarked on their military career as mitigation.
4)All silly questions. These are all things you do on your own not something tax payers have to pay for that allows a mass murderer or child molester to rest next to a hero.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jun 9, 2012 11:47:16 PM

Mike,

1) No, we are talking about a very large group of sex offenders. Like all sex offender legislation, this is quite broad. It is not directed at a single man. This legislator is ready to legislate on the basis of a single extreme case. Sadly, that is how most generalized legislation is created in this arena.

2) I am not arguing that the crimes aren't different. I am arguing there there difference is not a significant reason to approach things differently. Why should people that do immoral or illegal things receive honors? I'm asking you to articulate your standard, and I think you are going to have a bit of trouble doing so in any principled way.

3) I don't see why activities as a veteran reflect on a military career. You would have to give me some evidence or justification. If someone serves in Vietnam and in 2000 views child pornography on the internet, I don't see any connection or reflection.

4) It's not a silly point. The issue that concerns this legislator and the victim is not the burden on taxpayers. So your private/public distinction is irrelevant. But if you still doubt it, how about this: if a sex offender saves a man's life by chasing away a killer or administering CPR, can the mayor give him a city-cunfed plaque thanking him? Or has a sex offender forfeited the right to ever have public acknowledgement of any good deeds? And what sense does it make to do that? And why should a society demand more of sex offenders than the extensive and unprecedented lifelong punishment they already receive?

AO

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Jun 10, 2012 12:55:38 AM

What if a military person were wrongfully convicted of a Tier III offense , died , placed in a liquid tight capsule , buried in a cesspool ; then posthumously proven to be innocent ?

What if a military person died , was given a military funeral , buried in a military cemetery ; and then it was later determined that the deceased had committed a Tier III offense ?

Posted by:  They call me —►Mister Blank◄— | Jun 10, 2012 6:04:55 AM

well mike i would laugh my ass off if monday it was announced that a serium was discovered that could extend life an extra 2 or 3 centuries but unfortunately it had been discovered by one of those evil EX SEX OFFENDERS who has already announced that nobody NOT on the LIST will receive it!


can see the announcment now!

"I have created this serium to allow those like myself to eventualy manage to OUTLIVE the retarded hatefilled assholes who now run this world so those of you NOT ON THIS LIST can KISS MY ASS! you will NOT get it!"


i'm willing to bet he'd have million of those hatefilled holier than thou asswipes bending down to KISS HIS ASS to get it!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jun 10, 2012 10:36:54 AM

Despite this man's actions after leaving the service there is no indication at all that he did not serve his country with honor. For that he deserves no less than any other man or woman who has done the same.

While we can all agree that he failed to live his civilian life by the code of conduct that was drilled in to him during his time in uniform we should never forget his sacrifice and service. Military honors are the result of that service, not his conduct before or after.

Through out history young men standing before a judge have been given the choice of military service or jail for their transgressions. Many have chosen the military, served with distinction and valor, and were provided the same military honors when they were buried.

Ultimately it is not honorable to single out a particular type of criminal (sex offender) for exclusion while ignoring the conduct of murders, kidnappers, wife and child abusers and others simply because of the label. Each and every one has served their time and by it's very definition paid the debt that society demanded.

Steve
Veteran and registered sex offender!

Posted by: Steve | Jun 10, 2012 12:00:41 PM

i thought of another reason why the proposed ban of sex offender veterans from being in military cemetaries is a bad idea - the number of veterans with mental illness and the mental health care provided to veterans has been deplorable for years. the army's proposal - which would seemingly bar a veteran found ngri of a sex offense from a veteran's cemetary essentially is the military washing their hands of a serious problem which they have neglected for years.

plus, even if you don't provide a military honor guard or flag and whatever i still can't see what possible objection there can be to having an icky perv in the cemetary. are they afraid that a little girl wearing a dress to visit her grandfather's grave will walk over the icky perv's grave and somehow the dead icky perv will see through the coffin and ground and be able to see? i mean, unless the dead start rising from the grave a dead icky perv is pretty safe.

erika :)

Posted by: Erika | Jun 10, 2012 1:55:24 PM

Military honors are just that - military. If a person is worthy of them is a military question, not one of civilian behavior or for civilians to decide after the fact. If you served in/endured military combat, received an honorable discharge imho, that is that. No matter what else you do or have done in civilian life. It is for those actions that were performed while in the military that such honors are shown. Of course, those who have never engaged or only as rear area commandos ,i.e., non-combat positions, will have a different view.

Posted by: tim rudisill | Jun 10, 2012 2:28:45 PM

Almost always in these matters lingers the question of which politician will win the who-hates-sexual-offenders-most prize.

My vote goes to Rep. Hartzler.

Posted by: John K | Jun 10, 2012 7:07:19 PM

Someone explain something about the icky feminist lawyer, its icky feminist client, and its icky male running dog on the bench.

1) It wants special veteran courts because Bush's war causes so much psychic damage, highly screened, elite, well trained warriors have to turn to crime and addiction. These courts have to cut them a break because their crimes are not their faults, but the fault of Bush.

2) Then the icky feminist goes on a witch hunt, in which the majority of charges of sexual misconduct are false and driven by the icky feminist seeking a divorce, strongly encouraged by the icky feminist divorce lawyer, and the icky feminist running dog on the bench, totally biased against the innocent productive male. The exorbitant fees of the icky feminist lawyer representing the icky feminist have to be paid by the productive male, because the feminist seeking a divorce is a lazy, worthless icky feminist parasite. So in part icky rent seeking explains the icky witch hunt.

3) Now the icky feminist lawyer wants to punish the sex offender, but only after death.

4) The icky feminist is listing the normal, productive male who marries an under age girl with her parents permission as a sex offender. The icky, filthy minded feminist lawyer does not realize that the child porn laws are the greatest cause of recorded child sexual abuse, and that its running dog federal government is providing price supports to highly profitable criminal syndicates producing child porn by its illegality and by being the biggest subscriber in the world to child porn. These sicko, icky feminist pervs in the DOJ and their male running dogs should be targeted by the families of child sex abuse with baseball bats. Instead, phony damages are invented out of thin air so that payments can be extracted by viewers of child porn. Why is the DOJ, the biggest subscriber, enabler, and subsidizer of child porn in the world exempt from these damages? Because they have the guns. Simple.

We are now in the Twilight Zone of the icky feminist lawyer and its icky male running dog, where all logic is upside down.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 10, 2012 9:45:10 PM

While I understand that people do not want to honor rapists and icky pervs, even by my standards this is kind of riduculous since people seem to want to exclude dead icky pervs from cemetaries. Are they afraid that the icky pervs and rapists will continue to rape after death???

Erika :)


I agree with Erika if they are dead they can not harm anyone

Posted by: dildo | Aug 3, 2012 7:03:02 PM

i am just a citizen that happened across this blog. am i right in that someone is trying to take away honors for burial from a honorable discharged veteran at burial? the very idea of this turns my stomach. the person that dreamed this up is sicker then the person who committed the crime. honors are earned in life, to take away the honor as if it never happened is un-american and a crime. i don't understand how people are so quick to jump on any thing popular so they can be agreed with and have the company of fools to support them.

a hero is a hero, that is part of their character. it's what sets them apart from the average citizen and gives the average person the motive and strength to want to become a hero as well. to be able to take that away from them like this is to say why be a hero, why risk life and limb for someone who will take it away from you for what ever reason. if a person commits a crime punish them but you can't take away the fact at a time in their life they were a hero. i have seen blogs where a convicted sex offender saved a child and the only thing that was mentioned was that they were a sex offender, nothing about their heroic act. when will people realize that they broke a law. many are on the registry because of false accusations, romeo and juliet type of crimes by the way they are classified as child molesters too under the un-constitutional adam walsh act. these people lives are ruined by unconstitutional laws and you want to take the only honor a person had in their life for their service to their country too. never before in the history of this country has there been laws like this since whites hated blacks and would not let them eat or sit with the whites. now that the hate for blacks is mostly over the hate mongering people have to have a new group to hate, the sex offender. when will people stop hating and start learning, vengeance is mine say the lord. and make no mistake this is about vengeance. as are most all the sex offender laws and restrictions. read the facts and studies, the laws do not protect they only punish. punishing a dead hero is sick.

Posted by: jim man | Aug 27, 2012 11:43:10 AM

Where is this world going?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdPlezbdLEg

Posted by: davidjohn | Feb 12, 2013 4:19:49 AM

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