Bill (bassman0614) wrote,

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Tropp v. Dulles, anyone?

38-year-old woman convicted for sex with teenage boy

Cases like this are some common that they've become uninteresting for the majority in America nowadays (or I should say, they're reported by the media every time they occur, so their frequency is so overstatisticized as to make them seem exceedingly common). However, this one struck my attention immediately, and probably not for the simple fact that a woman was actually convicted for such a crime when many decry a double standard.

Instead, it is this:

Jeri Deanne Perez, 38, also was given lifetime probation at her sentencing Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

That's about as unconstitutional as something can get in the modern era when handed down by a simple local court, and it's handing the woman a get out of jail free card on appeal. Which she should get in light of such a heinous sentence, but thence my argument.

You see, probation has become the only way the American legal system can handle the volume of cases thrown against it as a result of insanely unnecessary "zero tolerance" policies and the insistence that the government has the power to regulate the non-violent behavior of citizens which have no detrimental effect against a fellow man. Now, I'm not here to get into a libertarian discussion on that front, but I mention it to state that probation is no longer seen as an aspect of punishment, but one of inconvenience and bureaucracy to alleviate the burden on the judiciary. And as it is not seen as punishment, it must be applied with increasing severity to "get the point across"; merely being beholden to another person is no longer the shameful burden it was fifty years ago, as most people have long since given up on the idea of freedom being the most important thing in the world.

As such, many (if not all) states have passed laws stating that individuals on probation are stripped of certain civil rights or held to a regulated code of behavior while they are probated. This has been held constitution as not violating the 5th amendment, because it is handed down by the judgment of a competent court as a conviction for a crime, and therefore is tantamount to being in prison and deprived of freedom for a period of time commensurate to the crime committed. Common restrictions while being on probation are no alcohol, no weapons possession, no contact with certain individuals, no presence in certain areas, no leaving the state without permission, and any crime or arrest results in an automatic penalty.

When these punishments are proportional to the crime, they fall within the purview of government; government, after all, exists to prevent persons from depriving others of their own rights (life, property, etc) and to meet out punishment to transgressors. Probation in that sense is permissible, and indeed preferable in my eyes to the money wasted on locking a non-violent person in a small room for several years.

However, this is blatantly too far. The semantics of consensual underage sex aside, a sex crime is nearly as horrifying a crime as one can commit, and merits extremely severe punishment. Historically, its punishment was death, although in recent times that has subsided to life imprisonment for rapists as only murder has been punished with death since the end of the federal moratorium in 1976. Yet, while death may end the existence of a criminal, it does not dehumanize them. The death penalty is handed out after excessive appeals and then in a manner as human as possible to alleviate suffering; we do not torture the condemned, draw and quarter them, or conduct executions in public to subject them to ridicule before their death. Such are a violation of the 8th amendment against cruel and unusual punishments, which is to say excessive... even those we deem to merit death are human and retain their human dignities.

The core tenet of American government, society, and indeed our way of life is that every person has innate, inborn, natural rights which are not granted and which cannot be taken away. They may be suspended for a period of time, but they cannot be stripped. My title refers to the final word on this subject as addressed by the Supreme Court: unless for an act of convicted treason, the actual taking up of arms violently against the government, or the willful swearing of allegiance to a foreign power to renounce ties to America, a person cannot lose their citizenship without their consent. To quote the chief justice, "denationalization as a punishment is barred by the Eighth Amendment, as cruel and excessive; this is the total destruction of the individual's status in organized society. To not have the civil rights and freedoms inborn in every person is to reduce that individual to the status of an animal, equivalent to chattel slavery in dehumanization."

To put someone on probation for a lifetime is to require them to ask permission every time they wish to leave the state, to say they cannot drink alcohol again, to say they can never touch a gun, to say whom they can and cannot associate with, to have them brought before a court and sentenced for being arrested or in violation of their "terms" without due process or a trial. It robs them of their human rights, the things that make them something higher than a dog. A dog can be put down for biting the mailman. A human cannot be made a dog for killing a million people.

And chances are, this will go unaddressed and without import for the average American, let alone the judges who will surely handle the appeal that follows every trial in the country nowadays. Fucking hell.


Postscipt - Let it be mentioned that this happened in Maricopa County, Arizona, the same place that tried to pass a law requiring that every person entering the county be searched for drugs or illegal weapons at the county line, until the state AG explained to them very slowly that there was something called a "warrant" and you need this "warrant" thing to search people, or something call the "constitution" gets angry. Fucking hell again.
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