Two interesting news stories today:
High Court Upholds Sex Offender Law:
Well, this one is an interesting development. In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme court has upheld a federal law which allows sex offenders to be confined beyond the term of their prison sentences if they are deemed to be dangerous to the community. (The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act)
In general, I'm always happy to see sex offenders locked up for as long as possible. There's a twist though:
The two hold outs are Thomas and Scalia. What??
Well, here's the thing of it:
According to Fox News, my two favorite conservative justices "contend the law goes beyond the powers given the federal government by the Constitution" Personally I think that earlier appeals panels may have been more clear in their explanations when they discussed concern about the government locking up people simply because they had the potential to commit crimes in the future. This is a more conservative line of thinking, and one which I wholeheartedly support. (Perhaps the AP didn't pick the best quote from Thomas and Scalia, or maybe they're were having an uncharacteristically befuddled day...)
At the risk of alienating victim's rights advocates out there, let me say that while I am personally happy that this will lead to more lock-up time for sex offenders, I have to say that these kinds of laws are too dangerous for my taste. I think they will ultimately be detrimental to the cause, as the waters become ever more muddy when people begin to use the law for "political reasons" more than for the "protection of society." We need clear and concise laws making this reprehensible behavior punishable by frighteningly long prison terms.
For example, I can easily see authorities relying on the law during election years to extend the lock-up of sex offenders who were already seen as the dregs of society. Conversely, even during election years, I could never see them using this kind of law to hold a politically well connected sex offender like william hamilton ayres, because it would simply draw attention to mistakes that have been made by authorities in the past.
Personally, I think that victims advocate groups (and upstanding lawmakers) should be having frank discussions with the public about the reality of the damage that is caused by these kinds of crimes, and that the current levels of imprisonment and fines are not strong enough; are not commensurate with the damage done.
The law should directly address this, neither by extension of terms via add-on laws, nor by "civil commitment," but rather by extending the punitive durations and fines of the very crimes themselves, to bring them in line with the actual damage done. Let's lock these creeps up for a long time because we have duly convicted them of bad crimes, let's not leave long convictions to the whim of some committee later, as an afterthought. By the way, we need to do this NOW, not after we remove these constitutionally questionable laws.
All the same, as long as everyone's sliding down slippery slopes, this is one that I suppose I'll hop on.
Church Sex Abuse Defense Detailed:
According to Fox News, The Vatican has laid out their defense plans for us: In order to have pesky lawsuits dismissed, (and to prevent the Pope from getting subpoenaed and deposed), the Holy See will be arguing (among other things) that the US bishops who didn't report crimes are not their employees, and therefore the 1962 Vatican document barring bishops from reporting the crimes didn't apply to THOSE bishops.
A Prayer For Sincere Repentance from Catholic.org
Oh Most humane and adorable Jesus, Your endless grace and mercy flows forth. Before granting the gift of absolution To earnest repenters of sinful ways, You demanded a sacrificial compensation. For a wrongful act cannot be rectified Until punishment has been accepted! Yes, for the salvation of my soul, Jesus, You accepted the price of the Cross! Grant me the grace to remain free of debts, My heart remaining flawless before You, Making Your absolution truly worthwhile!
Anyone at the "Holy" See look up the definition of Repent lately?
Probably not. Too busy trying to figure out how to skirt responsibility for hiding molesters.
Jesus ain't there to be used and then chucked back into the Community Chest pile like a "get out of jail free" card. Ya gotta at least pause for long enough to actually have faith.