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February 22, 2004
Minnesota Finally Gets Tough With Sexual Predators

A bipartisan panel recommended a long-overdue get-tough policy for sexual predators in Minnesota on Friday, proposing a mandatory life sentence without parole for first-degree sexual assaults and a discretionary LWOP sentencing option for other sexual offenses:

All other felony sex offenders could be imprisoned for life as well, at a review board's discretion, under the plan, the most sweeping response yet to the arrest last fall of a released convict in the disappearance of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin.

Just to refresh everyone's memory about the Dru Sjodin case, Dru disappeared late last year after work at the mall. Alfonso Rodgriguez, Jr. was eventually arrested for her disappearance and a search of Rodriguez's car revealed Dru's blood inside. Rodriguez had been released from prison less than six months before Dru's disappearance after serving 23 years for kidnapping and sexual assault, and it turned out that it was the third assault and second kidapping for which he had been convicted. Rodriguez had served the entire sentence in prison, refusing psychiatric care, and when released tested as highly likely to reoffend -- but Minnesota never bothered to refer Rodriguez for civil commitment.

Dru has never been heard from again, and is presumed dead.

The Minnesota legislature finally has gotten around to doing something about the lax sentencing for sexual predators, trying to close the door on the people who prey on our children ... or at least, some legislators are:

So far, 28 other Republicans and two DFLers - John Lesch of St. Paul and Mary Murphy of Hermantown - have signed on to the measure. ... A plan in the DFL-controlled Senate would sentence a small group of the "worst of the worst" sex offenders to up to 60 years in prison on a first offense and to life with the possibility of parole on a second. [emph mine]

Yes, that sounds like a great plan. Let me ask those learned ladies and gentlemen of the DFL-controlled Senate: Which of you want to sacrifice your daughters or granddaughters for the second offense of a sexual predator? Because that what their plan would mean, and make no mistake about it, that plan will let the so-called "Level 3" offenders back out on the street at some point. If it didn't, there wouldn't be a need for a second-offense strategy at all. Unless those people are willing to stand up and tell us -- and tell Mr. and Mrs. Sjodin -- that they're willing to risk their own daughters and granddaughters for a second offense, then they should withdraw that proposal immediately. It's time to get serious about public safety and sexual predators, and the DFL keeps demonstrating that they're not up to the task.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 22, 2004 8:47 AM

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