Lock Some Up, Throw Away Key

In both West Virginia and Ohio, finding ways to get convicts out of prison is a priority these days. Corrections facilities are so overcrowded some cons are sleeping on floors. Unless something is done to curb the problem, someone will file a “cruel and unusual punishment” lawsuit resulting in a federal judge’s order that a certain number of prisoners be released, regardless of what they did to be placed behind bars.

Perhaps we ought to be talking about locking some people up for longer sentences, however.

As The Intelligencer reported Saturday, a 41-year-old Bellaire man is off to the slammer – again – because he just can’t seem to stop committing sex offenses.

His last victim was a 6-year-old girl.

He had been convicted as a sex offender previously, but decided he didn’t like the requirement he register with the authorities. They caught up to him and he spent some time in prison for failure to register.

With less than a year to go on his sentence, he was released through something called “community controlled sanctions.”

He promptly committed two violations of that deal. First, he got caught drinking an alcoholic beverage. Second, he committed the crime of “gross sexual imposition” against the little girl.

Though prosecutors cited his “lack of genuine remorse” for that crime, he will serve just four years. Apparently, that’s the maximum for what he did.

Anyone want to bet on the chances of rehabilitating a fellow who committed one sex crime, refused to register with the authorities, then went back to his old ways with a 6-year-old?

Four years isn’t long enough. Not nearly.

In both Ohio and West Virginia, legislators have been looking at sentencing laws. One idea in the Mountain State has been to make probation virtually automatic after some non-violent offenders have served a few years in prison.

But what about the other side of the coin? What about men and women who have proven themselves to be vicious predators – and who, almost beyond any doubt, will harm other innocent victims once they complete their too-short sentences? Shouldn’t we be looking at the rules on how long they can be sent away for, too?

Myer can be reached at: Myer@news-register.net.