Thursday, June 5, 2008

Misleading Local Campaign Promises

I heard a commercial today for a candidate running for a local political position. The candidate criticized the incumbent for having only an 18 percent conviction rate for sexual offense arrests, vowing that if elected that increasing the conviction rate for this type of crime would be his top priority.


First of all, what about enforcing laws against other crimes? There are plenty of other crimes committed that are just as serious as sex crimes. Even though sexual offenses are the latest trendy crime du jour, it doesn't make sense to concentrate on these to the exclusion of less sensational crimes. I'd have give the candidate more credibility if he'd promised to be tough on all crimes across the board.

Second, I'm guessing that a lot of these so-called sex offense arrests are of the "17 year old boy gets a consensual blowjob from his 15 year old girlfriend" types of cases and juries are rightly declining to find such defendants guilty and ruin their lives. The 18 percent who are convicted are likely the true crimes perpetrated by adults against young children, who deserve to go to prison.

Third, because there has been such an increasing emphasis on sex crimes in the last few years, there is a danger of a "witch hunt" mentality occurring among the overzealous. In other words, perhaps a factor in the conviction rate is partially because some hasty, bad arrests made without sufficient probable cause, technicalities that ruin the cases, and so on in response to the current climate of seeing sexual predators behind every bush.

Because these are serious crimes that people typically react to in a particularly emotional manner, it is especially important that law enforcement and the judicial system not take a gung-ho, "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" approach. A prudent approach is essential -- to make damned sure that every procedural i is dotted and every t crossed and that sufficient probable cause exists before any arrest is made. The would help to increase the conviction rate of those arrested, even if fewer actual arrests are made.

And, as I've said before, it would help immensely if sexual activity between consenting teens in relationships were not included under the improperly broad umbrella of "sex offenses". Such matters are better handled by parents, rather than the legal system. If this was done, it would have the dual benefits of being more fair to the teens and would allow law enforcement to better spend its time going after the true predators.

I'm guessing that this politician was merely pandering to the current witch hunt mentality toward sexual offenses, rather than giving any reasoned approach to the issue of crime and law enforcement, simply to get votes.


No comments: