Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - Documents give details of 9-year-old's death - Apr 20, 2005

As a result of the documents, in an unanimous 118-0 vote, the Florida House passed legislation that would require longer prison sentences, lifetime probation and electronic monitoring for sex offenders convicted of crimes against children.

The Jessica Lunsford Act would punish the molestation of children under 12 with a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life, "followed by probation or community control for the remainder of the person's natural life and subject to a system of active electronic monitoring.

The death and violation of a child, especially sexual seems to rouse within us a near unthinking hatred and desire to wreck vengeance on the perpetrators and I must admit I'm not immune to them. And I must commend the Legislation for not opening the law further than it really needs to be and is probably more effective than the current situation.

Megan's Law is one such law that requires registration of all convicted sex offenders (even 'minor' ones) and puts that database online for nearly all and sundry to view and I've got to admit it was an eye-opening. But the civil libertarian in my nevertheless feels very uneasy about such driftnet laws and particularly this perception that the crime continues and follows you even after you have served your time to society (incarceration). And after reading about the unruly middle class mob that attacked a Welsh pediatrician house thinking she was a Pedophile was nothing short of disturbing and worrying.

But beyond that, it is questionable how helpful the current system is for dealing with such people, in essence, we are asking for enforced celibacy or at least to transform their sexual desire into something more socially acceptable (at least in modern societies) and considering the rate of recidivism, one has to question its effectiveness.

One option bandied about in debates is the possibility of life imprisonment, which admittedly has the benefits of protecting society of them and them from society. But it's a huge waste of tax-payers' money and resources. Plus we lose what could be a valuable contributing member of society.

Which is why, I'm beginning to be persuaded of the use of chemical castration e.g. depo-provera (also a birth control drug =P). One thing I like about it is that it can be implanted for a cycle of up to four years which cuts down on the hassle and danger of a weekly dose. But more than that by effectively killing the libido, it creates an opportunity, the time and space for these offenders to really absorb the kind of remedial counseling that could hopefully change their psyche.

Which also means that a lighter jail sentence could be imposed (also for their own safety, sex offenders are on the low totem pole in jail) and the person could go back and be a contributing member of society.

At the same time, I think people would feel safer. Knowing where these people are is one thing. But knowing that they cannot and are not inclined to commit those offences would be a huge load of most peoples' minds. Which should mean less lynch mobs.


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