'Factor' Producer Confronts Governors Who Have Not Passed Jessica's Law

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 7, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, GUEST HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: passing Jessica's Law. Forty-two states have some variation of strict mandatory prison sentences for convicted child rapists, but eight states are holding out. Vermont and Massachusetts look hopeless. But Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho are mysteries.

Let's take Idaho first, a conservative state. Idaho recently released 36-year-old Bradley Stowell from prison after he served just three years for sexually abusing a child. And get this: Bradley Stowell admits molesting two dozen boys. Yet he served three years. Incredible.

"Factor" producer Jesse Watters spoke with Idaho Governor Butch Otter.


JESSE WATTERS, "FACTOR" PRODUCER: Question for you about Jessica's Law. That 25-year mandatory minimum sentence...


WATTERS: ...for child rapists. Do you support that?

OTTER: Well, we have — we have a legislative group working on it right now. Of course, we're trying to take into consideration we already have a lot of statutes that do very much the same thing. I think the only thing that we lack is the minimum 25-year sentence.

WATTERS: Right. I think you guys just had a situation where there was a guy who admitted to molesting 24 young boys.

OTTER: Right.

WATTERS: He only served three years in prison. And he was just released. Now he's roaming the Boise streets. You take that seriously, don't you?

OTTER: I disagree with your characterization of roaming. He's not roaming the Boise streets. He is under lockdown with an ankle bracelet. We know where he is. Our folks know where he is. We know where he's going to be. If he avoids any one of those stipulations on his release under the electronic bracelet, then he's going to be back in prison.

WATTERS: You still consider him a threat to children, don't you?

OTTER: Sure I do.

WATTERS: This guy has a really long history.

OTTER: Which is another reason why part of the stipulation is that he can't be within a certain distance of children. He's — but he's not rooming the streets in Boise.

WATTERS: Would you sign a mandatory minimum bill?

OTTER: Jessica's Law?


OTTER: Sure.

WATTERS: You would? If it went to your desk?

OTTER: Sure.


O'REILLY: Ironically, the kids were playing in the background. Now, we're glad that Governor Otter would sign, but he needs to show more leadership on this issue. Obviously, justice was not done in the Stowell case. I mean, the guy, 24 kids, three years? Come on.

Now, in Colorado, Governor Bill Ritter didn't like being asked about Jessica's Law.


WATTERS: Hey, governor, Jesse Watters with "The O'Reilly Factor" at FOX News. How are you?

GOV. BILL RITTER, D-COLO.: Good to see you, Jesse. Thank you.

WATTERS: Quick question for you about Jessica's Law. Are you going to support Jessica's Law, 25-year mandatory minimum?

RITTER: We have the best sex offender laws in the country in Colorado. We have indeterminate to life. We have indeterminate to life parole and indeterminate to life probation. There's no other country that has more difficult — let me say, more harsh sex offender laws than the state of Colorado.

WATTERS: I think you guys just have a five-year mandatory minimum for first-time child rape, sir.


O'REILLY: Jesse is absolutely right. They don't have any mandatory. So it doesn't matter what you have if a nutty judge lets them out.

Wyoming is also very strange. There's no way that conservative state should not have strict mandatories against child rapists. The governor told Jesse he wants it.


WATTERS: If they do send you a mandatory sentence, 25 years, you'll sign it?

GOV. DAVE FREUDENTHAL, D-WYO.: In a heartbeat.

WATTERS: Thanks a lot.

FREUDENTHAL: For some reason — I don't know what it is — there's kind of a predisposition up there that they want to leave all that to the judge's discretion. We've asked for mandatory sentence on child pornography, Jessica's sort of law.

WATTERS: Jessica's Law?

FREUDENTHAL: We have not had any luck. There's a history in this state that, for some reason, the legislature doesn't like minimum mandatories. I used to be U.S. attorney, and I like minimum mandatories.


O'REILLY: With us now to react, former prosecutor, now defense attorney, Remi Spencer.

In some cases, like Massachusetts and New Jersey, which don't have Jessica's Law, it's the trial lawyers' lobby, very powerful in Massachusetts, particularly, that's blocking it. Why?

REMI SPENCER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Defense attorneys react. They have a very unhappy reaction whenever you take discretion away from a trial judge. Judges are put into a position of authority based on their ability to be objective and impartial.

O'REILLY: But you know as a lawyer that there are nutty judges all over the place. Look at this Idaho thing. Three years? Come on.

SPENCER: And it's true. Unfortunately, we see good and bad in every profession.

O'REILLY: So why does the defense lawyers — and you are one now — say, "Look, we understand," but the crime is so heinous? Look at this Vermont situation: 12-year-old girl. The guy was a convicted rapist. He's out for months, out of control.

SPENCER: I think you're absolutely right, Bill. I think as a society we say that children are going to be protected under the law. And people who commit the most egregious and horrific crimes against young children should be punished under the most severe sentences our law can impose.

Jessica's Law imposes a mandatory minimum. It's really no different than any other mandatory minimum that deals with drugs or murder.

O'REILLY: It isn't. But as you saw with Ritter in Colorado, now Colorado was 4-3. I know you probably don't know this, but four Democrats voted against it. Wouldn't put it up for a vote. It would have passed.

But Ritter doesn't care. Ritter is hiding behind "we have tough laws on the books." Yes, you do. But if they're not enforced, which many judges, some judges in Colorado won't enforce them, they're no good.

So what I'm trying to say to all of these people is, the greater good for society — and I think you agree with me here, even as a defense attorney — the greater good is if you're a convicted child rapist, you go away and the judge doesn't have discretion.

SPENCER: You know, the law, as far as sentencing is concerned, is designed to do two things: It's to prevent future crimes.

O'REILLY: Future. And punish appropriately.

SPENCER: And punish appropriately. And a law that will prevent young children from being put in danger is a good one.

O'REILLY: OK. So you're with me on this. But your state doesn't have it because of a few, and, again, Democrats, liberal Democrats. And the governor, Corzine, doesn't care. So, Jersey is next on our list. And you think it can get done in Jersey?

SPENCER: I think people recoil when you take discretion away from a judge. But as long as a defendant still has the benefit of the Constitution, and nothing about Jessica's Law removes...

O'REILLY: No, they still have to be convicted.

SPENCER: Exactly. And it's only the most serious crimes. There's nothing that would prevent plea bargaining where it's appropriate.

O'REILLY: All right.

SPENCER: If the system works properly, justice would be served.

O'REILLY: Just a recap: We're hoping Governor Otter and Freudenthal — is that, I think I'm saying his name correctly — do pass Jessica's Law. I don't know what we're going to do about Colorado, but we'll figure out something.

Counselor, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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