April 20, 2007
Deal or no deal on Jessica's Law?

Lots of Lege activity in the last day or two - we've got what, a bit more than five weeks to go? I'm gonna hit a few of the highlights, for lack of a better term.

Stand Down Texas notes that a compromise on HB8, also known as "Jessica's Law", may have been reached.

[T]he new wording hashed out over the past month is less drastic than a proposal [Lt. Gov. David] Dewhurst highlighted during his January inaugural address.

"There's tough. And then there's Texas tough," Dewhurst had said of the bill as conceived.

Or, more accurately, there's dumb, and then there's tuff-on-crime dumb.

It would have created a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for a wide variety of sex crimes against children. A second offense for any of those could result in the death penalty.

Though the newly worded bill is tougher than current law, requiring many predators to serve 75 percent of their sentences, its penalties are generally less than Dewhurst and Deuell proposed.

"The only thing we impose the death penalty for is two (penetration) aggravated sexual assaults of a child," Deuell told the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday before distributing the compromise language to other senators.

"There's a trigger in there that if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the death penalty for nonmurder is unconstitutional, then everything will revert back to life without parole."

Just as a reminder among all the chest-thumping, the district attorneys of Texas do not like Jessica's Law. Neither do people like the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA). This law will not do a damn thing to help them put offenders behind bars - if anything, it will hurt their efforts. But it looks good on paper, and David Dewhurst thinks it will appeal to GOP primary voters in 2010, and that's what matters. BurkaBlog has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 20, 2007 to That's our Lege