Friday, January 5, 2007

I'M STUCK IN FOLSOM PRISON. I KNOW I CAN'T BE FREE

Billy Clyde faces harsh vitriolic attacks on his personal and professional life every day. But I can take it. As the old saying goes, if you can't stand the cold, get out of the walk-in freezer.
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The criticism usually runs something like this: BC uses skulduggery, obscure rules, personal relationships and trickery to wind his way through the legislative maze and knows as much about policy and substance as a hog knows about Sunday. To those armchair quarterbacks, I say: you are just plain right.
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But I do know me some prison stuff. The nearest one to my house when growing up was nearly two miles away. But about 10 units were in my home county, including The Walls Unit, where Texas kills people. Plus I also used to go fishing a lot with the former chairman of the House Corrections Committee, Representative Allen Ross Hightower. ARH shared his encyclopedic knowledge of all-things-prisons with BC, and BC is a matter man because of it.
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Which brings me to today's topic, highlighted with great insight by that Emily chick from the Dallas Morning News.
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You can read the article for yourself. But the summary is that there's a controversy between Tough-On-Crime Politicians and the Actual People Who Get Tough-On-Crime For A Living. The debate goes something like this:
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POLITICIAN: "I hate child sex predators and want to punish them and kill them and punish them some more."
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PROSECUTOR: "I hate them, too. But your bill will make it easier for them to go free."
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POLITICIAN: "But I ran on this issue, and the voters gave me a HUGE victory because I boldly came out against perverts who prey on innocent little kids."
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PROSECUTOR: "We voted for you, too. But please don't turn your direct mail piece into legislation. You will be hurting your own cause. Trust me."
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POLITICIAN: "Are you sure?"
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PROSECUTOR: "Yes."
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BC would be pleased as punch if he could go the rest of his life without using the term "unintended consequences." But it's really at the heart of this debate. Let me give you a couple of examples, if I may.
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1) 20-year-old dude has a 16-year-old girlfriend. They go parking in what they believe to be a remote area that in fact is occasionally patrolled by Johnny Law, who spots the car and checks it out. He knocks on the steamed-up windows and ask for ID (and for them to get dressed). They comply on both counts. The boyfriend pleads guilty to statutory rape and is sentenced to one weekend in jail and 100 hours of community service. He is now a Registered Sex Offender.
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He is also now 35, his wife (the chick in the car with him) is now 31, and they have two lovely children and a dog named Buster, who wears a bandanna. They're doing pretty well and have their eyes on this house in the exurbs, which is in an excellent school system that would be just perfect for their children (Wynn, age 4, and Dixie, age 2). But as a Registered Sex Offender (for life), he can't buy that house, because Johnson County's Third United Methodist Church and Gymnasium is 900 feet away. Registered Sex Offenders can't live within 1000 feet of a gymnasium.
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This dude is very different from the 55-year-old greasy-haired pedophile who drives by day care centers seeking children to kidnap and sexually terrorize. At least in my book.
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2) A fellow in the Texas Reserve is going through Officer Training School classes at Camp Mabry over off MoPac Boulevard, which gives new meaning to the word "boulevard." His bladder is full, so he takes a leak. (editor's note: this is loosely based on a true story)
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Some busy-bodied woman who lives nearby sees this (through her telescope) and alerts authorities. This is her 394th time to report criminal activity to the police this year. She wants to be the head of her neighborhood Crime Stoppers, but her neighbors won't let her.
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The police arrest this aspiring officer on public lewdness charges. His attorney, Terry Keel, knows the judge. And the judge knows that Terry would love to take this to a jury trial and spend three weeks showboating in court. So His Honor dismisses the charges.
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But if the judge had been from Williamson County, the charges would have stuck. And the young patriot who needed to pee would be doing 15 years of hard time in the State Motel. And he'd be a Registered Sex Offender.
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I feel like I'm repeating myself, but ...
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This dude is very different from the 55-year-old greasy-haired pedophile who drives by day care centers seeking children to kidnap and sexually terrorize. At least in my book.
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I guess the point of this post, other to show off my policy prowess and wonkishness, is this: If you are a member of the Legislature, and you want to help someone, and that person says "thanks but no thanks, your bill will make things even worse," drop your bill.
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Legislators should be graded on quality, not quantity.
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UPDATE: Prompted by an irate reader, Billy Clyde pledges not to write about policy-oriented stuff for a good long while.

4 comments:

Winston Smith said...

Dear Billy Clyde,

The State of Texas takes great pride in its KISSS Laws!(Keep It Simple Stupid Solutions). And the more than *30* bills proposing new Sex Crime legislation are all one big collective KISSS to ASSS! (Asserting Strict State Sentences).

I noticed in the informative link you provided that there seems to be some argument about the Death Penalty.

Ms. Rep. from Tomball, Debbie Riddle,(R. natch) wants to punish them with death, even if a majority of victims are related to the Perp., (according to the link), because, "Sex offenders "are going to do what they're going to do, anyway,". But, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst (thinking through a spokesperson) thinks death could be a deterrent, "If a child-sex offender knows they'll risk the death penalty, "maybe these monsters will think twice," said Rich Parsons, Mr. Dewhurst's spokesman."

Must they argue? Can't it be both? The Death Penalty can be both a Punishment AND a Deterrent.

Why let these guys think twice. Let's kill them when they think once, before they commit their crimes. This is in line with the Republican philosophy of Preemptive War, and I don't think I need remind anyone that what is good enough for rogue nations and terrorists, should be good enough for these "monsters" who walk among us.

You keep writing about policy Billy. Big government is good, or as they might say in a lessor blog, "ILMSBG LOL!"

Waxahachie Prom Queen said...

Wow, you sound like John Whitmire! Be afraid, be very, very afraid!

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