Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why Do Our Lawmakers Love Criminals So Much?

State lawmakers this week passed some reforms to Connecticut's criminal justice system, but failed to approve the most important part, Gov. M. Jodi Rell's "three strikes and you're out" proposal.

Basically, Rell was pushing for a law that would require a mandatory life sentence for criminals convicted of their third violent crime, and would require them to serve at least 30 years of their sentence.

I emphasize "third" ... not the first violent offense, and not the second violent offense ... OK, if someone is convicted of three violent offenses, they have proven that they are violent and that they cannot control yourself and act like a human being -- they have proven that they need to be caged for the protection of society. And, that's only the three times they were convicted.

But, no, our wonderful state legislature would not accept such a measure, so Rell said she would try again in the coming session. You can read the Register's story about that here.

But I want you to pay close attention to 2 things in the story.

1. Rep. Michael Lawlor, a Democrat from East Haven, basically said Rell has no chance of getting that proposal passed. Here's a clip from the story:

Lawlor strongly opposed Rell’s three-strikes plan. He insisted a reformed persistent offender law provides prosecutors and judges with an option to send violent repeat offenders away for life when circumstances warrant it. He called Rell’s proposal “unworkable” and “unenforceable.”

“The prosecutors I talked to, and I talked to a lot of them, said a three-strikes law without discretion (for judges during sentencing) would never be used,” Lawlor said.

OK. To start with -- if a prosecutor does not do his job and utilize the law to put bad people away for as long as humanly possible, then that prosecutor should be fired.

Then, Lawlor says that instead of a mandatory sentence, there should be the "option" to send violent repeat offenders away for life. Why? If you make something optional, then people can opt out, which is the exact opposite of what we're trying to achieve here. Too many judges and prosecutors have already opted not to do use such a law, that's why we're having the discussion now.

Now, right here, please understand where I'm coming from -- I don't think people should go to prison for buying, selling or using drugs, or for shoplifting, or embezzling or tax fraud. I think prison should be reserved for criminals who put innocent people in danger, whether it be mugging or burglary or any violent crime.

Most citizens want tough laws to fight crime, and to keep criminals away -- with the obvious exceptions of the criminals' friends and families, and liberals who for some reason refuse to accept that fact that there are bad people in this world beside conservatives. But, most sane people want tough laws.

So that's why Lawlor's opposition so intrigues me. When lawmakers were grappling with the gay marriage debate, Lawlor stated that gay marriage would be made legal at some point and that he would fight for it until then, because that's what the people wanted.

But on this criminal justice issue, instead of doing what the people want, Lawlor does the opposite. Seems to me that Mike Lawlor does what Mike Lawlor wants to do, regardless of what the people of the state want. He'll fight for gay marriage, because he wants it legal; what the people want makes no difference, because I think the majority were opposed to gay marriage in this state.

2. The other person you should note is Rep. William R. Dyson, a Democrat from New Haven. He and other minority lawmakers were concerned that tougher criminal penalties would increase the number of blacks in prison.


So, let me get this straight -- if the state puts more criminals in jail, we're supposed to assume those criminals are going to be black?

Who cares what color they are? They're criminals!

I'm tired of hearing people whine about too many prison inmates being black. They're not in there because they're black, they're in there because they broke the law.

The initial response I have to that is, if there are too many blacks in prison, then blacks are committing too much crime. But then the debate comes in on whether blacks go to prison for crimes that white people get away with, and honestly, I don't know if that's true. If it is, then that's wrong, but the answer is not to not put blacks in prison when they commit crimes, the answer is to make sure whites go to prison for those crimes too.

Try and put all this into perspective, and stop thinking humans should be treated any differently than animals: What do you do with vicious dogs, once they show that they can't be not vicious? If someone is convicted of three violent crimes -- again, convicted, you only know about those three -- then they obviously can't control themselves, and every day that they walk the street is a day you or your loved ones might run into them.

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