Thursday, March 01, 2007

Jessica’s Law Stalls in Texas – Needs a Rethink on Punishment

So what didn’t happen in the Texas House today is presentation of HB 8 on the floor of the House (as previously announced). Cooler heads prevailed and they are going to let this one, which flew through Aaron Peña’s Criminal Jurisprudence committee, sit awhile.

Jessica’s Laws are being presented and proposed in state legislatures all over America. These are laws modeled after the Jessica Lunsford Law passed in Florida in response to the kidnap, rape and murder of 9-year old Jessica Lunsford by a sexual predator that had been previously convicted of raping a child, and then freed from prison 3 years later. Typically, these laws require that those convicted of these types of crimes complete the entire length of their sentence with no parole or time off for good behavior.

So why do we always go one better in the Texas House? Debbie Riddle’s (R - Tomball) version of “Jessica’s Laws”, HB 8, which was slated to be presented to the House today, is anomalously extreme in its punishment. I’ve checked around, and only 4 states have passed a Jessica Law in the United States that goes to the extreme of requiring courts to classify punishment of those convicted in a 2nd offense for sexual assault on a child under the age of 14 as a “capitol felony”.

Meaning of course that a person convicted of sexual assault on a child under 14 years of age must serve his entire sentence. And those who are convicted a second time for the same offense has a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole, or a death sentence imposed on him.

Yee-haw! Now that’s showing those perverts! Get on the extremist band wagon, stick a needle in them and punch in a death cocktail.

Trouble is, no one thought to look at case law. Executing someone for the offense of rape is unconstitutional.

Trouble is, no one thought about what these criminals would do if sexual assault and murder are both crimes that are treated with the same consequences. Why not kill your victim? Dead girls (or boys) tell no tales. Those were probably the lines of reasoning followed by Jessica’s killer.

Aren’t there better ways to punish 2nd time loser sexual assault felons?

Hey, what about surgical removal of all sex organs of these people? They go on living, but they can’t, you know, do it anymore. Ah, there’s more to it than that. That’s right.

Well then I’m at a loss. Wait, this is a religion-loving legislature, isn’t it? Why not look up some punishments in the good book? You can’t declare the good book unconstitutional, can you? Oh, that’s right – the Establishment Clause again. No Judeo-Christian ideals can be legislated – legally at least.

That leaves Buddhism, I think. It’s the one religion that doesn’t profess the existence of a supreme being.

Bet you didn’t know that the Buddhists are experts on criminal jurisprudence.

It’s true and maybe Peña’s committee, and even the entire Texas Legislature can take a page from “Basic Principles of Burmese Buddhism”. It’s a religious tract specific to Theravada Buddhism.

I quote:

32 Kamma Karana (32 Tortures)
1. Flog with whips
2. Flog with sticks
3. Flog with split rods
4. Cut off hands
5. Cut off feet
6. Cut of hands and feet
7. Cut off ears
8. Cut off nose
9. Cut off ears and nose
10. Pour boiling gruel into the head from which the skull bone has been removed
11. Rub the scalp with gravel to become smooth like a polished shell
12. Open the mouth by iron pins and put oil in it and a wick lighted therein
13. Wrap up the body in oily cloths and set on fire
14. Wrap up the hands in oily cloths and set on fire
15. Skinned in strips from the neck to the lips which falls in strips around the legs
16. Skinned alive from the neck downwards and the strip tied to the hair to form a veil
17. Tie knees and elbows together and let squat on a hot iron plate
18. Hang up on a row of iron hooks
19. Cut out bits of flesh the size of pennies all over the body
20. Cut all over the body with knives or sharp points and pour salt and caustic iquids over the wounds
21. Transfix an iron bar to the ground passing through the root of the ear and drag round and round by the leg
22. Beat with clubs to break the bones and to make the body like a heap of straw
23. Anoint with boiling oil
24. Let the dogs bite
25. Impale alive
26. Behead with sword
27. Put the red hot ball in the hand
28. Put the red hot ball in the second hand
29. Put the red hot ball on the foot
30. Put the red hot ball on the second foot
31. Put the red hot ball in the breast
32. The hell-guards drag him out and chop the body with axes.

Take your pick guys. I think you could find a few of these will be applicable. And once again Texas can show the rest of the country how we are more serious about punishing our criminals than the rest of the states.

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