Friday, January 13, 2006
A Rueful And Desperate Point Of Reason
In cases such as Hulett’s, wrote Cashman, the court is presented with a “sentencing dilemma.” It’s a choice “between two less-than-ideal options. One option enhances the long-term risk to public safety, due to the future release of a hardened, untreated sex offender. This person would endanger our children and grandchildren. In order to avoid that risk, the other option would be to impose a low-minimum on a lengthy incarcerate sentence.”I cry out against this nonsense. The man will be no less dangerous to society now than if he served a longer prison term. His terms of parole from that longer prison term could include a requirement to undergo counseling. The judge sets up a false dichotomy. The only way the offender here will serve more prison time is if he is caught molesting another child. These are hard offenses to catch, because most of the victims don't speak until adulthood. I'll bet this man is secretly angry at the girl for talking. I bet the next one will die, now that the man knows that if the next victim speaks, it is back to prison for him.
Such an offense is rooted in desire and an absolute inability to respect the child as a person with independent rights. It reminds me of a horrible case in which a kidnapped boy only spoke to the authorities after the man who had kidnapped him abducted another boy. Don't you understand? The offense against the child is irremediable and immense. The sense of self of most of these victims is so injured that they do not know that they have the right to speak in their own defense. They don't know that they have the right to protest, and indeed the judge and his defenders appear to be reinforcing that lesson.
The man is already hardened. This behavior continued for years. The pattern is set and reinforced, and now he walks the streets again. Oh, the press has written a thousand, ten thousand articles about the perfidy of the Catholic church in transferring child-molesting priests from one parish to another, but the church also did send those people to counseling. They appear to have been great customers of sex-treatment centers, with obviously tragic results.
Why, I ask you, is it unacceptable even to criticize such a sentence when imposed by a judge? It is the same deed. It is. By allowing this man to walk free, the judge is disregarding the public welfare. Is everyone nuts? Does our society secretly believe that these offenses are not that serious? These damaged individuals have been so deprived of a sense of self-worth that they lose the ability to protest. That is what the judge's remarks reinforced. That is what he said in his courtroom - that anger against such an offender was inappropriate and self-damaging.
Acts of irresponsibility are acts of irresponsibility whether committed in a courtroom or a diocese office. This sentence is an abomination. The only thing that we can now hope for is that another victim reads the controversy and gains the courage to speak in defense of the next one.
May God grant that this judge's sentence does not turn into a death or life sentence for another child, and may God please fulfill my prayer without requiring the death of this man. I do not pray for that, but for the protection of the innocent, and I pray in righteous anger.
It's his job to keep criminals off the street.
Still, the good news is that this incident and the publicity have caused Vermont to change its rules about who qualifies for sex offender counseling.
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