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Jewish World Review July 18, 2005 / 11 Tammuz,
Protecting the kids
Here's the stark truth in the land of the free: Many American
children under the age of 10 can no longer play on their front lawns
unsupervised for fear they may be abducted. Time after time we read about
young kids being snatched, raped and murdered by known sexual offenders, and
our society seems powerless to stop the madness.
The latest is the horrific case of Joseph Duncan, a convicted
child rapist who apparently murdered two adults, a 13-year-old and a
9-year-old boy in Idaho. When police arrested Duncan, he was having
breakfast with the murdered boy's 8-year-old sister, who told authorities
Duncan had brutally molested her for weeks.
Duncan was free to do this because of Minnesota Judge Thomas
Schroeder. Last March, Duncan stood before Schroeder charged with yet
another child molestation. The monster had already served 16 years in
Washington State for raping a 14-year-old boy and admitted to 13 other child
rapes. He even talked about them on this website. Yet Judge Schroeder set
Duncan's bail at just $15,000. A friend of Duncan's gave him the money,
Duncan paid the bail and then skipped town.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports Judge Schroeder was aware
of Duncan's past, and even if the judge didn't know, he could have easily
found out by having the prosecutor call the FBI's Crime Information Center
in Washington. Schroeder has no excuse. He's a disgrace.
But there are many disgraceful judges, either too lazy or too
apathetic to protect children. The solution to the problem is to take the
power away from the judges altogether. It is not a hard thing to do.
First, every state in the union must pass a criminal statute
like Florida's Jessica's Law. That calls for a minimum 25-year-to-life
prison term for a first offense sexual assault conviction against a child.
And second, if these predators do manage to leave prison, they have to
register their addresses with the federal government so a national database
can track their movements. Any failure to do this 10 years in federal
Basically, that would take sentencing discretion away from the
judges, but the nation would have to depend on prosecutors to aggressively
pursue those involved with child molestation. Something that has not been
done in Jessica Lunsford's case.
Only 13 states currently have mandatory prison sentences of 10
years or more for convicted child sexual offenders. The other 37 states are
mostly chaotic in the way they adjudicate these cases. My staff contacted
all 50 governors, and their interest ranged from intense (Gov. Rick Perry of
Texas) to ho-hum (Gov. Don Carcieri of Rhode Island).
The bottom line is that Jessica's Law could be and should be
enacted quickly in every state. There is an urgency to this. And if your
governor doesn't get the urgency, give him a call and let him or her have
it. Enough is enough with the brutalizing of American children. Every one of
us must hold the lawmakers accountable and demand protection for the
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