May 17, 2007
Journey for "Jessica's Law" nears its end

Grits reports that the conference comittee has done its work on HB8, also known as "Jessica's Law", meaning that the final version can be voted on and sent to Governor Perry. He has a link to a report on how it changed in committee, and a prediction for the future:

I predict the 25 year mandatory minimum first offense will be reduced by a future Texas Legislature soon after the first instance discovered where a family did not turn in a pedophilia case involving a young child because of stiff first-time sentences. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

I think for this prediction to come true, the situation would have to be something like "family doesn't report its funny uncle, who then attacks someone else's kid". Of course, it's entirely within the realm of possibility that the Lege would react instead by making it a felony to not report these crimes. Never underestimate the potential for a bad situation to be made worse, I always say. Either way, I agree that once there is a very public failure of Jessica's Law, there will be tremendous pressure to Do Something about it. It's just a question of what.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 17, 2007 to That's our Lege

I was thinking more along the lines of the family fails to turn in the uncle, then the kid tells a teacher, a friend's parent, a more distant (or conscientious) relative, or somebody else who reports the alleged abuse, not necessarily a second victim.

OTOH, you're right the Lege could just make it worse, but at some point you have to wonder how much worse? In any event, it's a poor excuse for a law that will almost inevitably be revisited.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast on May 17, 2007 6:47 AM

Not much good can usually come of a situation where legislators usurp the role of judges.

What's that we often hear about "legislating from the bench?" How about "adjudicating from the chamber?" That's what we have here.

I am generally not a fan of "mandatory minimum" sentences, especially when they are set very harshly. One can almost always construct a scenario where strict adherence to that would result in a miscarriage of justice.

Posted by: Tim on May 17, 2007 8:32 AM