Texas State Representative Senfronia Thompson Gives Her "Little Dog" Report From The State Capitol

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Jessica's Law: Protecting Children?

The Texas House recently approved H.B. 8 or "Jessica’s Law," which would make the death penalty a possible punishment for repeat sexual predators who commit offenses against children under 14. The proposed legislation, H.B. 8, passed through the House with a strong majority despite glaring flaws in its approach to a very serious problem.
I voted against H.B. 8 because of its reckless and likely unconstitutional expansion of the death penalty. Given recent Supreme Court decisions that have limited the use of the death penalty, this law would not likely past the test of constitutionality. Moreover, recent studies have opened all of our eyes to the grave consequences of our imperfect usage of the death penalty. Given the amount of people who have been exonerated after being placed on death row and the amount of people who have actually been put to death in Texas, I have little doubt that innocent people have died at the hands of our state.
Also at the heart of the matter is the fact that H.B. 8 will not likely deter child predators from threatening the wellbeing of our children. In some cases, the law may create an incentive for sex offenders to murder their victims instead of letting them go. This is because H.B. 8 allows for the death penalty to be used against sex offenders who do not kill their victim. Since the victim is often the only witness to the crime, a sex offender could plausibly better his chances of not getting caught by killing his victim. This horrible scenario is created by this bad piece of legislation.
Another problem with punishing sex offenders with death is the likelihood that the knowledge of such a penalty would deter victims of child sex crimes from stepping forward and reporting their abusers. It is disturbing but true that a great percentage of child sexual abuse happens inside the family. Knowing that reporting a family member could lead to that relative's execution creates reason for victims to keep their abuse hidden from law enforcement.
We can keep our children safe from child predators. But, while effective punishments for sex offenders is part of the solution, H.B. 8 fails to approach the problem in a manner that would best protect our children and serve justice in Texas.


  • At 12:17 AM, Anonymous David A. Diaz said…

    Hello, Representative Thompson,

    Looks like your visit to Edinburg last fall must have made quite an impact. Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, and his son, Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-San Benito, have both filed legislation calling on the UT System to build a law school in the Valley (Cameron County). I remember you called on Speaker Craddick to do what is right and support, like you do, this very important project for our region.

    I recall Sen. Lucio filed a similar bill last session, but now Rep. Lucio has introduced the idea in the House of Representatives. Given that Rep. Lucio supported Speaker Craddick for reelection, it would seem that the speaker should remember that favor, and use his tremendous power in the House to help make this dream for South Texas come true.

    Well, I can't speak for Mr. Craddick, but I assure you when the law school is finally created for South Texas, we won't forget that you publicly supported us in that most important, and historic, effort.

    By the way, please feel free to add my website, to this great legislative site. And give Rep. Peña my thanks for him helping you launch your website.

    Best regards,

    David A. Diaz


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home