Saturday, March 04, 2006

Letter to the Editor Re: Sex Offender Bill

Tuesday, after the Senate Judiciary Committee had voted to gut SB 205, the sex offender bill, I wrote a letter to the editor (scroll to bottom of page after link opens) of the Morgantown Dominion-Post condemning West Virginia's apparent inaction on cracking down on rapists and child molesters.

Wednesday, the full Senate unexpectedly adopted an amendment by Senate Minority Leader Vic Sprouse, R-Kanawha, that substituted a tougher GOP bill for the gutted bill that had emerged from committee. While 8 members of the committee voted to gut the bill, only 3 voted against the Sprouse amendment on the floor; 2 other senators who are not members of the Judiciary Committee, Billy Wayne Bailey, D-Wyoming, and Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, supported the committee's gutted bill.

Thursday, my letter ran in the paper at the same time the passage of a tough sex offender bill by the Senate was being reported. It sure seemed like I had misjudged the prognosis of this bill.

Friday, however, many of my fears began to materialize. The Manchin Administration and Democratic legislative leaders are now apoplectically whining and moaning about this bill's potential annual cost to the state of $91 million to $162 million to house the extra prison population ($91.5 million) and house & treat sexually violent predators who are subject to civil commitment ($61.9 million). The Ruling Party cannot see this issue for what it is: an issue of right and wrong and protecting the women and children of West Virginia from rapists and child molesters who are currently eligible for probation and no jail time under current law.