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."