May 17, 2010

Quick thoughts on the SCOTUS rulings

No, I haven't read the opinions yet so this is subject to change but these are my gut reactions:

1.  Life sentences without parole for minors convicted of non-murder crimes:  Yes, it's a state issue but cruel and unusual is an individual civil right that would give the Court subject matter jurisdiction.  What I'm more concerned about is what will happen if states revise their laws to say that the age of majority will be considered the age of 10 for cases of forcible rape with a weapon.  In that case a "minor" isn't being sentenced.  This may be considered in the opinion, but I haven't seen that question being raised in the comments I've seen about the opinion. 

On a broader scale, I am torn about this.  There are some crimes that are so heinous that death or life imprisonment are the only appropriate punishments.  For example, raping a 2 year old should get you drawn and quartered.  There is no logical or moral reason to say an 18 yo can go away forever for that but a 17 yo can't.  This brings up the issue of finding the death penalty for other than murder to be cruel and unusual.  I do think that violent sexual assault of a small child should result in death.  There are few things sicker than that.  I am also aware of the history behind how rape charges leading to the death penalty were used in the past.  So I don't know where I stand on that issue.  But this ruling strikes me as very worrisome.

2.  Post-sentence detention of sexual predators.  I'm against it.  I know the recidivism rate.  My stance on the heinousness of those crimes is well known.  But this?  Not only is it an unenumerated power, it's also very troubling on a practical level.  There's an old saying that bad facts make bad law.  This is a prime example.  Child sex predators are extraordinarily likely to abuse again.  I believe the rate is something approaching 100%.  When they are released, they are going to do it again.  I understand the impulse to keep them locked up, I really really do.  But this precedent will not be limited to its facts.  The potential for expansion is obvious and frightening.

The better response is to freaking execute those guilty of such crimes.  There you go, problem solved.  I'm sorry, but such crimes remove the criminal from the realm of civilization.  Those who do such things are rabid animals and should be put down as such.  Note that I'm talking about true predators, not a 19 year old who was sleeping with his 17 year old girlfriend. 

This also points out the bizarre nature of these rulings.  You can't sentence a kid to life without parole but you can keep him in jail after his sentence is complete if it involved a sex crime.  These decisions are impossible to square outside the specific facts of child sexual predation.  These decisions are also impossible to square with the prisoner rights decisions.

I reserve the right to revise and extend if/when I read the decisions, but that's my quick take.

Posted by: alexthechick at 12:30 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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