Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 2/6/2008 [Archive]

Fool Me Once

Fool Me Once

By Martha Randolph Carr

Sometime during this political season, someone is going to make a big deal about victims' rights and try to paste the image of convicted felon, Willie Horton, from all the way back in 1988, on the back of their opponent. How about if we get that ball rolling now? Here's something to ask your favorite candidate -- how do you feel about returning repeat, violent sex offenders with mental abnormalities to the streets where we live? Pay attention now, not just any rapists, but the ones who have returned time and again to violently attack someone trying to get home after work or a child returning from school. In other words, any one of us just trying to mind our own business. Keep in mind that if a store is robbed it's a tough event in life to get past, but when a body is violated and beaten, it becomes a life-changing event to either rise above or sink under the weight. The victims, who can still vote, are the ones paying the tab, and as a society we're struggling with whether or not the rapists deserve yet another chance. Why is that?

There was a federal statue for awhile, as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act of 2006 that attempted to keep repeat sexual offenders in a mental institution rather than set them loose to pick out another body. However, US District Court Judge Earl Britt recently ruled that segment unconstitutional and stated that the power of Congress fell short. His ruling allowed the release of five convicted sex offenders from the Federal Medical Center in Butner, NC. They're now walking around with us, without supervision of any kind. Imagine trying to protect yourself against that. Now, imagine that you didn't have to, but, well, we were concerned that the rights of these five guys, who have already violently sexually assaulted others on more than one occasion, might be violated.

I'm a little confused. Just how many tries at this one does anyone get? No one is arguing about their innocence -- and that's even been tested with more than one jury -- we're arguing about who's their next victim. Judge Britt stated we may never be able to clearly state who will offend again but these are people who already have violently attacked, again.

Some states have picked up the slack with New York as the most recent addition. Their first case, prosecuted by Deputy Chief Roger Canaff was successful and kept Joseph Phillip, a 50 year old repeat violent offender with mental abnormalities in a mental hospital, for now. The jury was asked to decide if Phillip had mental abnormalities which would lead to his repeating the offense again. Once the jury found him incapable of keeping his hands to himself, the judge decided he was to enter an institution for further treatment. Perhaps, the ruling could have said, all the rest of us who are paying the bills, raising our kids, going to work and taking care of our neighbors don't need the extra burden of trying to wade the streets with someone who sees us as prey.

Don't start applauding just yet. The second case to date surrounded Dennis Dove, a 26 year old man who was convicted of raping a 14 year old girl in 2000 and a 22 year old woman in 2003 and the state was attempting to make the case that Dove also suffered from mental abnormalities. After hearing his two victims, now 22 and 28, do their best to recount the worst day of their lives, Dove explained that he just wanted to get on with his life and become the famous record producer he just knew he was going to be. Canaff, in his closing statement, pointed out the difficulties in pursuing any career when most of a life has already been spent behind bars. That didn't sway a juror who found him reasonable and sane, and then asked for his autograph -- just in case. Dove was released to the streets of New York without supervision of any kind.

So, if you've had enough of walking around with an invisible target on you and think that two convictions for raping and beating anybody is enough, then email your favorite presidential candidate and ask the obvious question. What are you going to do about it? Then, use the one tool we still possess that when added together, might make someone listen. Vote for the candidate who thought enough was enough.

Look for Martha's latest book wherever books are sold. A Place to Call Home: The Amazing Success Story of Modern Orphanages (Prometheus)."...Carr's book should touch hearts and open discussions."- Publishers Weekly.For more info about Martha and her books go to www.martharandolphcarr.com.



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