Must be this Tall to Ride

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Everyday we are reminded that there's no shortage of loopy judges in this country. Take District Judge Kristine Cecava for example, whose inscrutable logic has placed her at the top of the list. When a 50-year-old rapist came before her facing 10 years in prison for making sexual contact with a 12-year-old girl, she decided that a 5'1, he was too short for prison.

This is yet another reason why I'm sometimes afraid to read CNN:

LINCOLN, Nebraska (AP) -- A petition drive is calling for the resignation of the judge who sentenced a sex offender to probation instead of prison in part because of his short stature.

The campaign is aimed at Cheyenne County District Judge Kristine Cecava, who last week sentenced Richard W. Thompson to 10 years of intensive probation instead of prison on two felony child sexual assault charges.

Cecava said at the sentencing hearing that she did not believe the 5-foot, 1-inch Thompson could survive in prison.
That may be well and true, but unfortunately for Cecava, she is a judge and her job isn't to baby-sit felons. Prison staff, wardens and officers baby-sit and look out and care for felons. A judge's job is to apply the law fairly, and somewhere I believe there's a constitutional requirement to apply it -- you know -- equally.

During the more sane times in our nation's history we would look at something like remorse as a mitigating factor in determining a criminal's prison sentence. We would look at the intentions of the offender. Here I thought we were through with judging someone based on their physical appearance, but I couldn't be anymore incorrect. Now, instead of giving someone a harder sentence because they're black, we can just say it's because they're 6'1 or strong enough to eat the prison's meatloaf four times a week.

But there will be no prison meatloaf for Richard Thompson. Saved by his stature, he will be spared prison and be asked - oops, I mean "ordered" -- to obey the terms of his probation. He will be electronically monitored for the first four months; I guess, because after the fourth month we can just "trust" him to not have inappropriate contact with young girls.

In addition to the monitoring, Thompson is not allowed to be alone with anyone under 18. He's not allowed to date or live with a woman who has children under 18. Whew, talk about a serious burden on the poor guy. Now Thompson will have to find a beach, park, school, mall, store, community pool, gymnasium, stadium, Disney World or some other public venue to ogle underage girls.

But none of this seems plausible to the ignorant judge who actually had the audacity to say:

"I truly hope that my bet on you being OK out in society isn't misplaced…It's very hard to keep you in society when I know the risk is another child getting hurt."

But apparently the risk of another child getting hurt isn't as important as the risk of a less than luxurious prison experience for a guy who had the mindset to sexually abuse a girl 40 years his junior.

But the most dastardly aspect of the judge's decision isn't that she subverted her role as a judge when deciding that Thompson wasn't fit for prison, it's that her decision begs the question: how severe must the crime be before we admit the idiocy of the liberals' rehabilitation argument? Where do we draw the line? Sure, a 5'1 man who had sexual contact with a prepubescent girl may not be fit for prison, but neither is the 5'1 man who had sexual contact with a prepubescent girl...and then killed her afterward.