The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein

Monday, April 28, 2008

Case proven for Civil Confinement

The Union Leader of New Hampshire has been so kind as to offer the perfect case which proves the importance of Civil Confinement- except that it doesn't. Let me explain the case a little, and then we'll get on with the reasons it doesn't prove the need for civil confinement over the need for judges who will sentence properly.

From the time Lawrence Woodard was 19, he's spent a good deal of time in prison- 33 years in fact- all stemming from violent crimes committed against women- rape, kidnapping, assault.

From the time he was 19 years old, any time Woodard was free, he preyed on women. He had been sentenced to life in the state psychiatric hospital, but after seven escapes and numerous crimes he finally was found competent to stand trial and was locked up for 33 years, the Concord Monitor reported this week.

When he was released two years ago, "I knew damn well he was going to do it again," Thomas Winn, a retired state police trooper, told the Monitor. But New Hampshire had no law allowing the civil commitment of violent sex offenders to the state psychiatric hospital.

So, 33 years in jail- he gets released and offends again. They blame it on the fact that NH has no civil commitment laws. This in fact is not the problem at all. The problem really stems from the fact that 30 plus years ago this deviant predator was sentenced to 33 years in prison. It's a flaw of our old laws and sentencing guidelines, which we are attempting to correct now by virtue of civil commitment.

Don't get me wrong- he's the perfect example of someone... but more of someone who should have NEVER been released from prison to begin with. Now, I'll take civil commitment as a last resort- if that is the only option we have to keep these monsters behind bars. But, at the same time, I can not embrace the concept. Because, I know as do most people that laws enabling civil commitment will only give more judges excuses to lighten sentencing on offenders- pushing more of the responsibility of keeping these people off the streets onto those who are in charge of seeking and or ordering civil commitment. It will be used, as so many things are nowadays, as an excuse to not give the max--- I can here the bleeding heart liberal now 'well, I'll give you the least amount of time, that way if you somehow get yourself 'fixed' in jail, you'll have another shot at life; and if you don't- well the civil commitment board will play catch and keep with you'.

Civil commitment should be used, in cases where the sentencing predated new tougher laws, and where it's a last resort to keep the public safe. But, for those current cases sitting in courts- let's take care of the problem before it starts and give mandatory maxi um sentences that fit the crime, rather than fit into a system that thinks that someone might one day be able to drag themselves out of the filth and be a better person. The judicial system is in place to punish those who break the laws, and to protect society from the chance that these same criminals will have a chance to break them again.