Friday, March 02, 2007

Punishment without a crime

Newsday Editorial

With a lot of Bush picks currently sitting on the Supreme Court Bench, using them as a litmus test of constitutionality may not be the most reliable these days......a different viewpoint.....something to think about........nobody wants their kids attacked by sex offenders.....especially known and convicted ones......yet....are we paying too high a price eroding another freedom??? andy

Albany is poised to enact a civil confinement law that will allow officials to lock up sex offenders indefinitely in psychiatric centers after they've served their time in prison. Passage of the law is all but assured, given the deal that Gov. Eliot Spitzer and legislative leaders announced yesterday.It's also profoundly troubling.New York is about to cross a bright line. If this bill becomes law, the state will begin to lock people up for crimes they might commit, rather than just for crimes they've actually committed. Albany should reject that sea change, which would turn psychiatric centers into prisons, add to the stigma of mental illness by lumping sex offenders with the mentally ill in the public mind, and lock up - possibly for life - people who haven't been convicted of any new crimes. Unfortunately, Albany is not likely to rethink this course. The public wants civil commitment. The U.S. Supreme Court says its constitutional. Other states have made it the law. And New York's elected officials have embraced it, despite scant evidence that sex offenders can be treated effectively.Under the bill, mental health professionals would screen all prison inmates doing time for sex offenses - not just those who victimized children - to decide if they are predisposed to commit more sex crimes. Those thought likely to re-offend would be put on trial. If a jury agrees they're dangerous, a judge would order confinement or release with strict, intensive supervision. The bill also includes some pragmatic changes worth making: mandatory treatment for sex offenders while in prison and longer parole. Preventing sexual attacks is an important goal and those measures should help.But civil commitment is a perversion of the ethic that, if you do the crime, you do the time. Enact this bill and it will be: You do the time if we think you might one day do the crime.

Nobody likes child sex predators, so a politian can grandstand ad nauseum with absolutely no downside risk, yet reap the fine image of protector of the kids.

And even those who agree with you, who among them will have the courage to resist such legislation, when their only reward is to be labeled a friend of perverts?

As for psychiatric patients, what did they do to deserve their new neighbors? If this goes through, drop the facade of treating their illness. They are just unproductive people to be warehoused. Very unjust to them.
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