WANTED: Mandatory Prison Sentences for Child Sex Offenders

Chelsea King was a straight-A college bound senior who went for a run in the park and never came back. Amber Dubois was a 14-year-old member of Future Farmers of America who disappeared on her way to school. Candice Moncayo was tackled at the end of a jog by a man who tried to rape her and threatened to kill her -- she escaped. What do these 3 events have in common? They were all committed by John Albert Gardner III, a violent sex offender who recently plead guilty to raping and killing Chelsea and Amber. He received consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole. This in and of itself is bad enough, but it gets worse. He was convicted in 2000 of assaulting (repeatedly punching her in the face) and molesting a 13-year-old. A court appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Mathew Carroll, recommended the maximum 30- year-sentence, stating that Gardner showed no remorse and that he would continue to be a danger to underage girls. The prosecutor in that case opted for a plea deal for 6 years in order to spare the young girl from a trial. Gardner served 5!

Here’s the deal: Doing a psychiatric evaluation on a sex offender is not rocket science. In terms of assessing relapse potential you want to see them take responsibility for their actions, not make excuses, admit what they did was wrong AND most importantly show regret and remorse. That’s it! If you don’t get that then I’ll bet you a million bucks they will relapse. On top of that, violent sex offenders may have a progressive course that goes from molesting to rape to murder. Their recidivism rate is the highest for all crimes and is 400% the rate of other convicted felons. As for prison, pedophiles tend to serve easier time because they are sometimes kept out of the general population for their own safety and are often released early for good behavior because…guess what, here are no kids in prison! Add to this the fact that there is no generally accepted treatment/cure for this condition and you end up with only one conclusion: If you’re convicted once of the violent, sexual assault of a child then you need to be in prison for a LONG, LONG time.

Right now, there are a staggering 704,777 registered sex offenders in the U.S . The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (Adam’s Law), passed in 2006, separates sex offenders into 3 tiers based on the severity of their offense and requires registration. The problem is that the sheer numbers have overwhelmed the system. It’s estimated that as many as 100,000 offenders may be off the grid and not accounted for. Right now there are several groups (ACLU, NAMBLA), as well as states and various lawyers challenging the law, stating that it’s unconstitutional. In addition, many sex offender prosecutors offer plea deals, even with a rock solid case, to “protect” the victim from testifying and some judges will hand out a mere slap on the wrist for these crimes against kids.

The answers are quite clear: There should be a MINIMUM 20-year sentence for the violent, sexual assault of a child. --  This rule alone would take the sympathetic judges out of the equation. Also, those in the legal system must understand that until there is a proven, effective therapy for this condition that rehab can only be considered in conjunction with prison time, not as a stand alone treatment. Adam’s Law is a good start, but needs to place more emphasis on the Tier 3 sex offenders, especially who are the worst of the worst, and focus our legal/monetary resources there. Prosecutors need to know that it’s far better to have a child testify in these cases than let even one of these offenders get off easy on a plea deal.

Now is the time to take a stand, NOW! We must draw a line in the sand and make it very clear to politicians, judges, prosecutors and organizations that our children are our future and that we will do everything in our power to protect them from these sexual predators. What do you think the punishment should be for the violent, sexual assault of a child?

May Amber and Chelsea R.I.P.

Dr. Dale Archer is a psychiatrist and frequent guest on FoxNews.com's "The Strategy Room." For more, visit his website: Dr.DaleArcher.com.

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