To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sex Crime Excess

Few people want to speak out in favor of the rights of sex criminals. It is politically popular to give them extremely harsh sentences, to restrict their habitat and to put them on the eternal damnation of web-based offender lists. I do not love sex offenders, but I think that the law has tipped into the extreme in terms of dealing with them.
The decision by New York to confine sex offenders beyond their prison terms places the state at the forefront of a growing national movement that is popular with politicians and voters. But such programs have almost never met a stated purpose of treating the worst criminals until they no longer pose a threat.

About 2,700 pedophiles, rapists and other sexual offenders are already being held indefinitely, mostly in special treatment centers, under so-called civil commitment programs in 19 states, which on average cost taxpayers four times more than keeping the offenders in prison.
The main argument for indefinite terms for sex offenders is that they are likely to commit the crime again. Well, so are robbers and murderers. Recidivism is a big problem all around, but we don't keep other criminals under supervision indefinitely.

Second, many sex criminals are guilty of things like being 17 and having sex with one's 15 year-old girlfriend or the case of a 52 year-old man with no prior criminal record receiving a 200 year prison term for having 20 child pornography photos. The latter's case went to the Supremes, who declined to hear his case.
The US Supreme Court on Monday let stand a 200-year prison term for an Arizona man convicted of possessing 20 child pornography images, turning down his appeal arguing the sentence was excessive or cruel and unusual punishment.

Without any comment, the high court declined to hear the constitutional challenge to the sentence given to Morton Berger, who at the time of his arrest in 2002 was a married, 52-year-old high school teacher with no prior criminal record.

Berger's lawyers said his lengthy punishment was grossly disproportionate to his crime and exceeded the sentences regularly imposed in Arizona for violent crimes that result in serious injury to the victim.