Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stabbed in the Brain, Again . . .

Here's an interesting little story in today's Clarion-Ledger:

(AP) A bill that would require capital murder convicts to register as sex offenders if found guilty of an underlying sexual offense is headed to the governor. It was one of three bills pushed by Attorney General Jim Hood. All three are headed to Gov. Haley Barbour.

Hood says the sex offenders bill contains retroactive language that would require Douglas Hodgkin and others convicted in similar cases to register as sex offenders upon release. Hodgkin, who will be released next week on parole, was convicted in 1987 of capital murder in the rape and slaying of Jean Elizabeth Gillies.

But wait . . . take a look at

Miss. Code Ann. Section 97-3-21: Every person who shall be convicted of capital murder shall be sentenced (a) to death; (b) to imprisonment for life in the State Penitentiary without parole; or (c) to imprisonment for life in the State Penitentiary with eligibility for parole as provided in Section 47-7-3(1)(f).

Miss. Code Ann. Section 47-7-3 (1)(f): No person shall be eligible for parole who is charged, tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment under the provisions of Section 99-19-101.

Miss. Code Ann. Section 99-19-101 is the sentencing statute that applies to all convictions for capital murder sentencing statute.

So, under existing law, nobody who is convicted of capital murder is ever eligible for parole, unless they were convicted before August 1994, when Section 47-7-3 was amended. I guess that's why it was so important for the new law to be retroactive.

But as you legal eagles know, the registration requirement is probably a component of the punishment that cannot be imposed on people who have already been convicted. That's what the U.S. Constitution's Ex Post Facto clause is about.

It's just another example of how legislators and public officials make a lot of noise passing laws that they know can't be enforced. Oh, you think I mean laws banning abortion? Yep, you're right.

Maybe someday the voters will respond: "We're not that stupid, folks, and we resent that you think we are. Go solve our real problems or we'll throw you out."


Anonymous said...

I wondered when I was going to read this, and wondered when someone would bring up the fact that retroactive sex offender registering wouldn't work. Yeah, I love it when the legislature passes bills that contradict the law.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'd rather the government be stupid on these matters and do what's right instead of what some law on a book says it should do. These people don't need to be wandering around our neighborhoods unknowingly. I know attorneys are all about the 'law" but what if it was your neighborhood, and your kids and pretty wife living next door to Hodgkins? I think then you'd be happy the government and politicians weren't so knowledgable in law.

Anonymous said...

ajabfl...who are "these people" of which you speak? I suppose you think "these people" are different from you? I believe "these people" should be subjected only to what is lawful just like you are.

Anonymous said...

These people are those who have been convicted of murder/rape. And call me snobbish, but I don't care about their so called rights for remaining anonymous after getting out of prison. And yeah, I'm prone to think that if you kill and rape someone, you shouldn't be affording to the same rights as I am. Call me crazy.

Anonymous said...

ajabfl...okay, you're crazy. Answer this: when do you think a person has paid enough for his crime? When the sentence is finished? Beyond? Indefinitely? I'm glad you're not my judge.