And Justice for…Criminals?

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, October 6, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Joining us is the district attorney of Westchester County, New York, Jeanine Pirro. Her book is called To Punish and Protect: One D.A.'s Fight Against a System that Coddles Criminals.

Thank you very much for being here.

You make the great point in your book that it's not just about jailing criminals. It's about making victims whole again. And the law doesn't go far enough and do the right thing to accomplish that.

JEANINE PIRRO, TO PUNISH AND PROTECT AUTHOR: Well, you know what? We pay lip service to the whole concept of justice. On the one hand we say we punish criminals when the truth is that we protect them.

On the other, we don't recognize that victims need to be protected and that we have a further job to do. Our job does not end when we put someone in jail.

COLMES: Is this a left-right thing? Because often liberals like me get accused of being soft on crime. Is there...


COLMES: She can answer for herself.

PIRRO: This is really about our paying lip service to the concept of justice. I'm frustrated. I've been in the system for 27 years.

COLMES: Right.

PIRRO: I've seen too many of us blame the victim for crimes that a criminal chose to commit.

COLMES: Right.

PIRRO: And it's all about someone targeting you or I, just going along in our lives.

COLMES: It's not left or right. It's just that the system has to be addressed?

PIRRO: But it has to do with our whole concept of criminal justice. Even the name gives top billing to the criminal. It shouldn't be the criminal justice system. It should be the victim justice system.

COLMES: You talked about…I just talked to you off the air for a second. The Alan Paul Barlow case. This was a guy, 51-year-old man or so, having a decent communication with minors on the Internet.

He helped New York state pass a law against this kind of communication, but there was those claiming First Amendment rights. And even I consider myself a First Amendment purist, think this was a good law. But you had to fight. You had to fight to get that done.

PIRRO: Ten years ago, Alan Paul Barlow started e-mailing a young girl in Westchester County. He was 51. He was charged with rape out in Seattle, Washington. He told her he was 14, and after six months she agreed to meet with him.

And but for her mother bumping into her, she might have been a victim of a sex crime.

And what we had was a tremendous resistance by people saying, "You know what? You have the right to communicate. Free speech, First Amendment." Baloney. Not when it comes to children. Not when it comes to people who are trying to molest kids.

HANNITY: If our system doesn't protect them, then why do we have a legal system? I mean, they are the most innocent among us.

PIRRO: Well, think about the fact that, you know, children are so vulnerable. And what we do in our society is we use them to testify in criminal cases. And then we say goodbye to them. We don't heal them. We spend all of our resources...

HANNITY: No, we get as much out of...

PIRRO: ... trying to heal the criminal. Rehabilitate the criminal, give them an education, give them three meals, give him a doctor. And then we lose victims and we wonder why they come back as criminals.

HANNITY: The liberals…and this goes to the whole system, though. I mean, we're more conditioned about these guys, as you point out. But then we give them the law library so they can sue us.

PIRRO: Oh, yes.

HANNITY: We give them the weight rooms so they can bulk up and beat us up and beat up the guards.

PIRRO: Right.

HANNITY: And we even give them conjugal visits so that they can reproduce and have no capacity to take care of the children they bring into the world.

PIRRO: Even worse than this we trash the victim.

HANNITY: And we do that do.

PIRRO: We make excuses for the criminal. We get involved in this national therapy session, where we say, "Where did he go wrong? Was he abused as a child?" I don't care if he was abused as a child.

HANNITY: I don't care either. He cares.

COLMES: No, I do not care.

PIRRO: What I care about is he chose to victimize a child...

COLMES: That's right.

PIRRO: ... or innocent person. You or I, every five seconds, one of us is prey to a violent felony.

HANNITY: Look at this little girl, Elizabeth Smart. I mean, every time I think of this kid now, for the rest of her life she's got to carry this horror with her.

PIRRO: And Sean, that's exactly the point. They view all of their life through the prism of this one traumatic event.

HANNITY: That's right.

COLMES: Good luck...

PIRRO: We do nothing to help them.

HANNITY: You have been known as a very tough D.A. And I applaud you for this. The thing…we were just getting into this during the break. I cannot understand the attack by these people against children. I have two young kids at home. You have children.

And he and I have battled on this program many times this issue of Megan's Law (search) and the idea that we can identify where the bad man lives tell the children not to go over there, don't trust that guy.

And liberals don't think we should have the right to know that these animals exist across the street.

PIRRO: But that's exactly what we were talking about before. This is a liberal issue, where people say, "You know what? This person should be protected. " Baloney.

What you have with a pedophile or someone who has sex with children is someone who is going to repeat their crime.

HANNITY: ... a right.

PIRRO: They're going to do it again, and they're going to pick your kids or my kids.

HANNITY: That's right.

PIRRO: And Megan's Law is nothing more than a reflection of the fact that a conviction is public information. And as a parent we need to know.

HANNITY: But don't we have rights? Whose rights are more important?

PIRRO: But that's what my book is about. To Punish and Protect is about the fact that we protect the criminal, and we punish the victim.

HANNITY: Tell him. We...

COLMES: Don't paint liberals as not caring about pedophiles.

PIRRO: Sure.

COLMES: The fact is, people should be sentenced properly in the first place so they never get out. If you think there's recidivism, if they can't be changed, or they can't be fixed, then don't let them out. But don't have a law that gives…you give them punishment after the crime.

PIRRO: Are you saying that you support laws to keep these people in prison for the rest of their lives? Is that what you're saying?

COLMES: I'm saying that if they should not be let out into society...

PIRRO: Then the answer...

COLMES: ... then they shouldn't be let out.

PIRRO: ... is they shouldn't. But once they are...

COLMES: ... but once they have been given a sentence, can you go back and change that?

PIRRO: Are you going to tell me that they're healed? They're not...

COLMES: Then don't let them out. Then don't let them out. Don't let them out.

PIRRO: You support legislation to keep them in jail for life?

COLMES: If they cannot…If they are pedophile, if they abuse a young child and if they cannot…yes, they cannot get back, they don't belong in society. They should not be there.

PIRRO: Will you sit a jury in Westchester County?

COLMES: So I think that is my position.

But let me ask you very quickly about…about Kobe Bryant (search). This accuser, we may agree on this. The accuser here, I think, has been thrown down the stairs.

PIRRO: Classic example.

COLMES: And they have looked into her background. Is it right to look at somebody's mental records, their mental health background and suggest that she can't tell the truth because of that?

PIRRO: You're right.

It's not right but they do it…defense attorneys do it because they can. And it's almost as though we take the criminal's side.

It's almost as though you expect the foreperson of a jury to stand up and say, "We, the jury, find the victim guilty, not the defendant, the victim."

And that's what we're doing to this victim. And I'm amazed that she has the internal fortitude to go forward in spite of this.

COLMES: So what do we do? Is there anything you can do to prevent them delving into somebody's medical records, their mental health background? What can we do?

PIRRO: Well, you know, just as we passed a rape shield law that prohibits people from talking about a person's prior sexual activity not related to a case, we've got to do more to make sure that we protect victims of sex crimes, male, female.

COLMES: Because women are going to be more reticent to come forward, especially if somebody who…if the accused person is a celebrity, that's going to make it more difficult hurdle to get across from now on?

PIRRO: If a person is a celebrity, then there's going to be more of the spotlight.

It's about the 80-year-old woman that we…that was a victim of a rape crime and the defense attorneys went to her neighbor...

HANNITY: If somebody has a history of mental illness, especially a recent one, I think the defense has a right to bring that up.

PIRRO: But that's something that a judge can decide. It's not something that should be out in the public domain before we even go to trial.

HANNITY: All right. Good to see you. Great book. Thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

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