ELECT THE PEOPLE'S LAWYER: David Van Os, Democrat for Texas Attorney General

Friday, October 27, 2006

David Van Os on Abbott's Proposed Death Penalty for Child Sex Predators

While I support stiff penalties for sex predators, I am opposed to punishing a crime that did not result in a death with the death penalty. This makes me the exact opposite of Greg Abbott, who favors the death penalty for 'sex predators' even where the offense did not result in a death.

Applying the death penalty to a crime that did not result in death is disproportionate to the crime and thus unconstitutional in my opinion. Also, reserving the death penalty for homicides saves some crime victims' lives. Making non-homicide crimes subject to the death penalty will result in some criminals killing their victims where they might not have done so, since they have nothing further to lose by committing murder.

Abbott's position on this issue is typical of his grandstanding. It is also typical of the way he deals with families. In his administration of child support, for example, he does not care about the families who are involved in anguishing situations. He only cares about getting his statistics to use as political bragging points. In many sex crime cases the offender is a family member who needs treatment and cure. To apply the death penalty in such cases would only bring more anguish to already distressed families.

Families need help, Greg, not lethal injections.

posted by snarko! at 4:49 PM

Blogger mpunfun said...

Hurt people... hurt people.

While I am no bleeding heart liberal when it comes to sexual predators, it is widely known and understood that someone does not just decide to be a predator. In every instance I have ever read or heard about, the predator was at one time, a victim.... a victim who was ignored when he/she needed help the most.

It adds insult to injury to kill someone who was once a victim and later due to lack of treatment, resources, or assistance, became a predator. Sad situation.

I'm with David on this one. The death penalty is to punish someone who took someone's life and I believe that if we invoke it for sexual predators, we will find a trail of dead bodies behind.

5:09 PM  

Anonymous Bobby Wightman-Cervantes said...

Good show David - this issue was getting into my craw - if you know the kid can ID you and it means lethal injection you have all the reason in the world to kill the child

Solid Reasoning David

Further, everyone constitutional scholar in the country knows the Supreme Court will never approve the death penalty for a non-capital crime.

BObby Wightman-Cervantes

5:32 PM  

Anonymous Al Lowenstein said...

David, I support your candidacy and I usually agree with you. I can't in this instance. Fortunately for both of us, I don't agree with Greg Abbott, either.

My lesser point: I am philosophically opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances, even for murderers. I am content to see life without parole be our most severe punishment. Far from timid, however, I would have few qualms about its broad application.

My major point: given that the death penalty is a reality of our legal system, there are some crimes that are as heinous as capital murder, perhaps even more so. Whatever we adopt as our most severe form of punishment, I cannot accept that its use be limited to capital murder alone.

6:10 PM  

Anonymous mary mcdaniel said...

I feel that they should also get stiff punishments but not death unless a death is committed. A death for a death. Give them life sentences for a destroyed life and possiblly creating another child molester. But yeah prison time and no early release but not death.

6:41 PM  

Blogger snarko! said...

Ah, but I'd rather have someone giving opinion on death penalty with SENSE, than one without it.

Which is to say I agree with you, Al. But I also don't hold my own opinion as god; I don't always like it, but think David makes just calls on Law. Always. And Real Law (he tries to change that hurt-everyone nonsense they call 'law'; he ain't blind). Why I like him. I actually like disagreeing with him on this one. But yes, he's no capitol punishment nut.

And I'm gonna do this, straight up. *breathe* Sorry David, best use of my fury at moment...

While posting this (I'm your webmistress--I don't post as self much for that reason), yes, I care, and very, very, very personally.

I am out of a broken home with a sex predator as described (I ran away). Apparently I alone was unscathed (the black sheep and loudmouth)--and mind you these phonecalls are coming in from family AS I WRITE THIS--David just heard me cry. No joke. And I don't cry much.

HEY ABBOTT--that death penalty thing? NO WAY. They ain't calling the people with guns right now (and they're aplenty in my family); they're calling their one aunt they trust and thinks may have sane input. They didn't even call the police--they called ME, the only one that got out. They don't trust the police.

They want help. Help. Not a bullet. Not a chair. Help. THESE ARE HIS CHILDREN you think they'd call me with a death penalty applied?!?!?!

Less than my usual logic at moment, but I wanted people to know exactly what it's like on this end. This is actually way personal to me.

PS: This just got real different than the comment that didn't take--I guess that's why it didn't; I cared cuz I knew. But I didn't know. It's on voicemail at a mile-a-minute right now.

Abbott, you're asking me to chair my brother. MY BROTHER. I hate his guts, but I'd sooner put a bullet in his head myself than send him to you.

And I'm sure I'm not the only one. This proposed law is stupid, stupid, stupid, and I think an attempt to have "crime" numbers drop, simply because more crimes go unreported. Period.

And that makes me REAL MAD. As I'm here to HELP.

6:42 PM  

Anonymous sick n tired said...

I agree with you, David. The death penalty should be reserved for the most extreme cases of disregard for life -- cold-blooded murders when there is absolutely NO DOUBT of guilt and understanding of the horrific nature of the crime. The biggest problem with regard to the death penalty in this country is that it is applied so unevenly.

7:32 PM  

Anonymous Patrick D. said...

Abbot is an idiot. When child abusers are caught the child is usually the main witness against them. So if we make the punishment the same for child sexual assault as it is for murder all they are doing by murdering the child after assaulting them is reducing their chances of getting caught. Abbot's proposal will cause an increase in child murders. I guess it makes a better election-time sound bite than a comprehensive approach to ending the cycle of abuse. The bad news is that bad ideas like his keep becomming law in Texas...

7:37 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to hear from you on this. While I am no friend of child sexual predators, the death penalty is not appropriate for this. Anyway, I'm sure he knows it would never pass while a bit of common sense prevails.

10:19 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The frustration and pain Snarko articulates is almost palpable. In 1992 I felt a similar anguish after a phone call from a young friend of the family. She told me that someone in the family had sexually assaulted her (no penetration but other acts). I knew who it was before she finished the sentence because he had molested me when I was 16. Although she was 19 then, she looked 15 tops. Through details I'll spare the reader, we realized that in the 15+ years between my experience and her's he had molested (or worse) countless adolescents -- his age preference.

We both had lots of therapy. Yet my guilt for failing to protect all those other girls continued to wear upon my psyche and health. Over the phone, a decade after my young friend's call and almost three decades since my own molestation, I finally found the courage to confront my sexual predator. I'd had surgery earlier that day and was strung out on residual anesthesia and pain meds. I don't recall exactly what either of us said but I do remember a sense of relief.

He thanked me for finally saying something that he had been afraid to; apologizing and telling me that he had recognized his sickness and also had lots of therapy. My sister nearly left him but didn't. She and I still haven't talked about it and she's the type who probably never will. My neice has since his claims.

Do I regret not reporting him to authorities (or at least my sister) those many years ago? Sure but I had my 16 year old reasons. After an argument with my dad, he and my sister had been banned from our house for over a year. I didn't want to lose my sister again.

Here's the kicker...in every other regard, this sexual predator is a good man. He helped raise two wonderful children (to my knowledge, never molested either)who now have children of their own. He has been a "friend in need" to many even some he didn't know that well.

In light of the general attitude toward and legal subjegation of those labeled sex offender or pedophile -- including those unjustly convicted -- I'm glad I never reported him and would probably not report him if it happened today. I would however if I knew that he'd be mandated intensive therapy and close observation -- but still allowed the basics of human survival (a place to live, employment, a chance to redeem oneself).

Not only does Abbott's plan threaten children abducted or molested by someone sick enough to kill his (or her) victim. It also threatens children who would not wish to sentence their uncle or brother-in-law to possible death. Those who don't address the psychological damage caused by this conflict might grow up to victimize other children or like me carry it around in their gut wondering "why am I in such pain?"

Don't get me started on the situations such as some poor slob convicted because of an ugly breakup, vengeful ex, and inept public defender. Or registered sex offenders who are already in hiding or on the run because of the catch-22 between the facts homelessness and parole violations. Nobody wants pedophiles living in their neighborhood or shelter (I've tried to help some RSO's seek housing...it ain't easy) but if they don't have an address to report, they go back to prison. Martha Wong's idea to lock them up for life might actually be more compassionate than releasing them to a world where they have no where to sleep and cannot get a job; much less take medications and maintain therapy appointments. At least in prison, they had a cot, food, and sometimes a job.

I'm honored to support an attorney general who will have the intellect, logic, empathy, and compassion to consider all issues involved in the safety of our most vulnerable. Thank you David for being the voice of reason.

11:50 PM  

Anonymous No fan of Greg - said...

Wow, that has actually changed my mind about the death penalty. One thing to consider is that when someone you deeply love is killed or even hurt, you want to hurt back. An eye for an eye is not literal. Victims or familes of victims become extremely emotional and lose sense of the law, as expected. However, I don't agree with killing for killing. Then again, if we let them live, they live on to possible escape and hurt again, or kill someone at a hearing or even kill in jail. Now, killing someone in jail may not be a bad thing but what if the person in jail was falsly placed there. That happens. Look at the story of Kelly Micheals who served several years before someone came and got her free.

And, how many of those in death row claim to have found Jesus so they won't be killed? Are they off the hook? No. But it sometimes helps them get an appeal and here we go again with mindless spending of our tax dollars. Either way, our money to goes to that when we should be helping the handicapped and disabled who are REALLY disabled, not just pretending to be so they don't have to work.

9:26 AM  

Anonymous PT Stempko said...

Abbott is using the same tactic here as Bush uses in terrorism - disagree with Bush and you're a traitor.....disagree with Abbott and you're coddling child predators. Fortunately on this, as on so many other issues, David has a rational, well thought out alternative. Don't fall prey to Republican scare tactices. David will be an Attorney General for the people.

9:52 PM  

Anonymous Susan said...

It's an insane proposal that he knows will never pass, but it's a desperate appeal to his far right supporters. Go look online at registered sex offenders. Some of them deserve the worst penalties available, but other "sex offenders" are 18 year old boys who had consensual sex with 17 year old girls and got caught. They don't deserve to be executed.

As for Abbott touting his record on child support enforcement, I got scared when I received not one but two letters from his office telling me they were "improving" the system. Now instead of getting my child support every other Wednesday, I get it it (hopefully) every other Thursday, although sometimes it's as late as the following Monday. And when I call to ask about it, I invariably get the surly employee who says "What do you want me to do about it?"

10:49 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with you for one simple reason. Most child predators have long lists of victims. The children are often afraid to come forward because they fear the perp will go free or they will be blamed. We recently learned that an uncled had molested our children, and our son held it in because he did not believe that anything would be done.

One big reason that victims often do not come forward is that they have been threatend by the perp. If the victims know that the perp will be put away for life, or even executed, they may finally find the peace that come from knowing that the predator will not be able to carry out his threats.

25 years for a first offense and death for a 2nd offense seems quite reasonable.

The people who steals the innocence of children, steal their souls and their lives.

They are not just ill people who need to take some medication, they are dangerous predators, like rabid dogs should be rendered incapable of ever harming a child again.

Being a one time victim is not a license to victimize others. When I look at the harm that is caused by child molesters, I think Greg Abbot is on target with this one.

10:40 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree 100% with the other anonymous poster. I was sexually abused by a family member several times, just touching, nothing else. This person was very, very close to me. I never reported the abuse, and with the way the laws are now, I am so glad I didn't. In every other way this was a fine and decent man who had children he spoiled rotten, a wife he worshipped, and he worked hard all his life. I cannot even bear to think of the shame he would have to suffer in today's world. No way would I have wanted this man to serve even one day in prison. I never told anyone. I think the laws have gone way too much the other way, and I think many abusers were victims themselves!!!

8:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:02 PM  

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