Judge Richard Moses did it again. Another Level 3 sex offender he let loose was accused of committing yet another sex crime.
Before the ink was dry on the story, the apologists lined up. "It isn't Judge Moses' fault - he was just following the law." Blah, blah, blah.
Kenneth Stone had a long rap sheet and he'd been charged or convicted at least four times for sex crimes between 1989 and 1995, already far too many bites at the apple. Moses should have known better no matter what the so-called "experts" said.
It's safe to say that Moses has probably had his responsibilities shifted, and there'll be no more "shopping for Moses" by pedophiles and their lawyers. Not that the guy should be shunted off to traffic court but his errors have caused more than enough harm. Let him manage "slip and falls" for a while.
And then, because there are more Moses-types still out there and judges have far too much discretion during "sexual dangerousness" hearings, it's time to take away judicial discretion altogether and pass Jessica's Law. With mandatory 20-year prison terms under Jessica's Law for predators who rape children, we won't need hearings to determine who should walk free upon release from a three- to five-year prison stint (the embarrassing "going rate" for child rape in Massachusetts).
It's a dumb hearing anyway, isn't it? If a perp needs to be civilly committed because he's too dangerous to walk free in society, isn't the real problem that he should have been criminally committed for a very long time in the first place?
I can hear the naysayers now. "Murphy's a fascist. It's bad for humanity to lock people up. Offenders used to be babies, too. They need hugs and treatment for their illness."
Rape isn't an illness, it's a choice. Sure it might be a choice driven by a compulsion, but so what? We all know what it's like to really need to use the bathroom - yet we don't pull our pants down in the middle of Main Street. Sex offenders might really want to impose themselves on children, and they can choose not to, but they don't.
Studies show that offenders tend to be selfish, narcissistic and immature - which is why, like self-centered kids, they opt to indulge rather than restrain themselves. They don't give a damn about anyone else.
Jessica's Law offers the only real solution because it requires long-term isolation of predators from law-abiding citizens and defenseless children. But in this state, where we all but post "welcome pedophile" signs at our borders, offender-huggers and their lobbyists control the Legislature. So it's no surprise that after a hearing on Jessica's Law, one person (who refused to be identified) said, "It has about as much chance of passing as Iraq has of ending the war tomorrow." Great.
Here's what I want to know:
If locking people up is fascist, why aren't the offender-huggers outraged about long punishments for white-collar criminals who embezzle investment and retirement accounts? I've scanned the news stories on such cases and can't find a single example of the American Civil Liberties Union in Massachusetts speaking out against long prison sentences for corporate criminals, inside traders or insurance frauds who burn buildings for money. Maybe the ACLU has a soft spot for sex offenders. They certainly spend a lot of their resources defending rapists. Maybe it's because they get funding from the porn industry? I don't know and they aren't saying.
But I do know this:
Locking up sex offenders isn't fascist. Nobody wants the government to have more power. Responsible citizens simply want the government to use the power it already has fairly. Massachusetts has an ugly reputation of under-prosecuting and under-punishing sex offenders compared to the prosecution of property and theft crimes. This sends an unacceptable message that women's and children's lives are less valuable than material wealth.
With Jessica's Law in place, these disgraceful statistics would change overnight. But it won't happen unless people everywhere call, send letters and e-mails, and literally hound their elected officials to do the right thing.
If we'd had Jessica's Law in place, Judge Moses' mistakes would have been avoided and a 6-year-old boy, allegedly raped in the stacks of a public library by a man Moses released, would have been reading "Hop on Pop" with his mom instead of being violated by a horribly dangerous man.
Long prison sentences for predators protect all of us while promoting the essential idea that the stuff we own is never more important than the children we love.
Wendy Murphy is a victims rights advocate and nationally recognized television legal analyst. She is an adjunct professor at New England School of Law and radio talk show host. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.