A system out of control
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 12:05 a.m.
In California, the criminal justice system’s method of dealing with sexual predators who harm or even kill children is – to borrow a phrase – stuck on stupid.
What else can we conclude in light of recent and frightening revelations about just how free and uninhibited convicted sex offender and now accused murderer John Albert Gardner III was while on parole after serving five years of a six-year prison term for molesting, beating and falsely imprisoning a 13-year-old girl. The victim later said in an interview that she thought Gardner intended to rape her.
The San Diego Union-Tribune has reported that Gardner violated his parole seven times by moving too close to a school, for letting the battery run low on his electronic ankle bracelet and other offenses. According to reports, Gardner also had other brushes with the law. He was stopped and cited by local law enforcement officers numerous times during his parole for possessing marijuana and other infractions. And yet, his parole was never revoked.
The people of California would like to know why. Was it because of neglect, incompetence or the fact that the prisons are so seriously overcrowded that field agents are discouraged from sending offenders back inside? They may never find out, since officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation claim that Gardner’s field file – which contained, among other things, notes and observations of parole officers – was destroyed under a department policy that requires documents be purged within one year after a person’s release from parole.
That’s convenient. Are you sure the acronym for this agency isn’t CYA?
Could this be part of a cover-up by squeamish, six-figure-salaried bureaucrats in response to a high-profile case that could cost them their jobs? That is not out of the question. The more that comes out about what Gardner may have been up to while on parole – including the multiple violations – the worst the story gets.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently ordered the California Department of Corrections to stop destroying the field files. Now Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is running for Schwarzenegger’s job, must investigate the Corrections Department to make sure everything was done properly.
Meanwhile, we’re not doing a very good job of protecting our children from the inefficiencies of the system. Gardner is now accused in the murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King of Poway. He is also “a focus of the investigation” into the death of 14-year-old Amber Dubois of Escondido.
The 3.2 million people of San Diego County – and the millions around the country following this story – should start channeling some of the anger and disgust they feel toward sexual predators such as Gardner and focus it on the system that lets them loose in society largely unsupervised. These are your tax dollars at work, folks.
But let’s also save some of that anger and disgust for local law enforcement officials and the dysfunctional way in which they deal with sex offenders.
Aim it at police who, with scant evidence, foolishly make snap judgments that missing teenage girls are more likely runaways and not abductees. This was how the Escondido Police Department dealt with Amber Dubois’ disappearance last year, despite repeated pleas from her parents to open a more active investigation. The parents became so frustrated that they eventually turned to a private investigator.
Aim it also at prosecutors who are so eager to put a conviction in the “win” column that they offer ridiculously lenient plea deals instead of going to trial and risk blemishing their record with a defeat. Prosecutors defend themselves by saying that child-related sex crimes are especially hard to take to trial because the young victims are usually reluctant to face the defendants.
That’s true. But this is always going to be a problem. These are, by definition, crimes against children. Your star witness is always going to be a child. That’s no reason to kick the can down the road by handing out generous plea deals to people who we can reasonably assume will, upon their release, continue their evil ways. And rack up more victims.
The accused are entitled to their day in court to answer the charges against them. But this system can’t be defended.
Navarrette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are also other factors which really need attention:
1. Raise taxes and get rid of the Two-Thirds requirement. If we are going to raise money, we got to get rid of the stupid and divisive two-thirds vote requirement in the State Legislature for tax and spending bills. The minority Republicans believe that they have more than a third in the State Senate and Assembly, they can act as a "Second Governor". The result-budget crises year after year. If we are going to enforce stupid laws, we need to get rid of the Two-Thirds requirement, and pay for what we need.
2. Build more prisons. I rather see more COMPETENT Public Defenders, but until we can get the still stuck on stupid 80% of the State Bar population, we have to build more prisons to accommodate the predators we already got.
3. Repeal stupid initiatives. The initiative process in California started in 1911 to help stop the corporate influences that were literally bribing the State Government. What we got are initiatives that cut taxes when we can't afford to cut them, require spending with no provision for new taxes or funding sources, and laws full of loopholes that can't be enforced, because they were poorly drafted in the heat of the moment and might as well be written during an orgasm. Jessica's Law qualifies as the last two. It doesn't stop the offender from "visiting" a relative or prevent the offender from trolling for victims. It was sponsored by the fucked up San Diego D. A. Bonnie Dumanis who was also running for election as D. A.! Her office shouldn't be prosecuting the Gardner case at all. In fact, the law wasn't enforced in the Gardner case. Gardner could have been sent back to prison for Parole violations and then sent to Atascadero State Hospital indefinitely, but he wasn't. In the Phillip Garrido case, it wouldn't stop him from going across the State, kidnap Jaycee Dugard, and keep her prisoner for 18 years in complete deception of Garrido's Parole Officers. After what happened in the Garrido case, the bull shit didn't stop, but it looks like we have a California Department of Doughnut-heads and Retards. Stupid Initiatives are no substitute for "failure to train".
4. Fund Inmate healthcare. California faces a possible Federal Court order that could bankrupt the State. In compliance with the Eighth Amendment, the state is supposed to treat the inmates. Unfortunately, it will have to take more taxes to pay for it, and more prisons may have to be an option.
5. Nonviolent offenders and the Three Strikes Law. We put people in prison doing time for drugs, shoplifting, and other offenses that could be spent in County Jail or on Probation. That only increases the size of prisons, and the reason why we need more prisons, and raise taxes for them. The Three Strikes Law was proposed in part due to Richard Allen Davis killing Polly Klaas.
IF WE NEEDED THE HYSTERIA, WE SHOULD GO FUCK A WOMAN, AND HEAR HER HAVE AN ORGASM!!!!!
6. Stop begatting abuse. We need to help the victims, before they become abusers. Gardner was abused, and instead of helping him when he was young, Gardner was left to fester.
Chelsea King said in her last essay of her life in part:
“'The Death of Ivan Ilyich' and 'Hadji Murad' forced me to question the values of my own life thus far, and at an age where frankly the looming presence of death hardly crosses my mind, and compels me to seriously think about my eventual fate.
"I found that while pondering death, the same mind-numbing fear experienced by Ivan Ilyich grasped me as well. Although written over 100 years ago, Tolstoy writes with such psychological precision that the themes addressed and feelings expressed in the two novels remain lucidly relevant. Not only does Tolstoy make it vividly clear that we all die, but he also attests to the fact that life continues callously on after death.
"So if we essentially are born merely to die, how does one possibly live a life of meaning and significance? In response to this enigma, Tolstoy largely prescribes a cure of brotherly love, and honesty. Fundamentally, I agree with him on these terms.
Unconditional respect and honesty with oneself and others ensures that life remains free of poisonous superficial illusion, thus curing the disease of stagnation and hypocrisy. Yet I also believe that the cure includes a daring dash of joie de vivre — a fearless spontaneity and full embrace of life’s small joys, whims, and the pursuit of what one truly loves to do.
"Thus I believe that a truly noble existence is comprised of living for the sheer thrill of living, maintaining an objective honesty with oneself, and upholding an unconditional positive regard for all.
"I stand at a major turning point in my life as I begin to prepare myself to leave for college. As I embark for the first time out into the world truly on my own, I must not live in fear of my own mortality and succumb to the complacency of society, but rather sap each ounce of life out of my own fleeting existence and live what I believe to be a noble life."
We can all "go on living after [our] death" as Anne Frank said in her Diary in April 1944 (Not on August 4, 1944, in the movie, "The Diary of Anne Frank".), but until we stop begatting abuse, we will lose more children to predators. If these were Nazis, they be taken out and shot already.