March 11, 2007
More voices against "Jessica's Law"

Via Eye on Williamson cites the Taylor Daily Press quoting notoriously tuff-on-crime Williamson County DA John Bradley as follows regarding HB8, aka "Jessica's Law":

"There are some bills known as 'Jessica's Law' that tend to focus on increasing punishment that, though they have good intention, focus it on the wrong place," Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said in a previous interview. "The question we need to address is what assistance do children need, not should we increase punishment. Texas already has some of the toughest punishments for sexually based crimes in the country. By increasing the punishment, the numbers of abuse cases aren't likely to really change."

Bradley said legislators should take a more holistic approach to the problem of sex crimes by making it easier for children to testify against an accused offender.

"(Senate Bill) 78 does the best job of addressing child abuse across the board," he said. "It establishes a new crime focused on continuous sexual abuse. Often times in the courtroom, children are asked to recall a specific incident - the time it happened, where it happened and any minute detail. For some children, that isn't always possible. This bill would allow sexual abuse to be looked at over time and not that one specific instance."

In addition, Bradley said, Jessica's Law implies it is fairly easy to catch and punish sex offenders.

"... The legislature and certainly the lieutenant governor think it's quite simple to catch these criminals but in reality it is quite the opposite," he said. "If a jury finds sex offenders guilty of a crime, they have no problem sending them away for a long time. We need to spend more time on capture ... rather than punishment."

Food for thought. And if that's not enough, then see this position statement on Jessica's Law by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA), which can be bullet-pointed as follows:

  • Mandatory minimum sentencing may backfire and result in fewer convictions of sex offenders.

  • Global Position Satellite (GPS) tracking of sexual offenders may make us feel good, but will not make us safer.

  • Residency restrictions will make communities less safe.

Is anyone paying attention? Thanks to Grits for the link.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 11, 2007 to That's our Lege