Our View

Published 12:40 pm Thursday, July 28, 2005

By Staff
Is House going too far to protect our children?
In recent years, child predators have dominated the news throughout the country, with several high-profile cases of past sex offenders abducting and murdering young children.
A problem that has always existed in our world has seemingly grown worse recently, and 24-hour news has only magnified the problem.
Several states across the nation have proposed tougher legislation against sex offenders in recent months, and Alabama is no exception.
During the special session called by Gov. Bob Riley, one of his proposed bills was making laws tougher on sex offenders. Upon receiving his proposal, the Alabama House of Representatives took things a step further.
In a bill sponsored by Rep. Neal Morrison (D-Cullman), people who sexually abuse children under 12 would be subject to mandatory surgical castration, required to wear electronic monitoring devices for the remainder of their lives upon release from prison, and would be banned from working, living, or loitering within 500 feet of a school or park.
The Senate responded Thursday by passing a much lighter version of the bill. Their version adds tougher penalties, but only requires 10 years of electronic monitoring and toughens requirements on reporting locations.
Each side has to pass the same bill before it reaches Gov. Riley's desk, so it may be a while before either becomes law.
While castration may very well be what these depraved individuals deserve, the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects individuals from "cruel and unusual punishment". While in the eyes of most a punishment such as that would be justified, in the eyes of the law of our land it most likely would not.
If this bill does pass the legislature, don't be surprised to see it quickly declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
For first time offenders, a lengthy prison stay could be sufficient to see rehabilitation. Thirty years in our prison system is far worse than castration, and would especially be so for a child molester.
Rehabilitation is possible for some people, and before we lower ourselves to the level of child molesters, perhaps we should consider alternative punishments.
America has built its reputation on taking the high road, and as hard as that road can be sometimes, this is one that we should take as well.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox