Pubdate: Sat, 14 Oct 2000
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2000 The Denver Post
Contact:  1560 Broadway, Denver, CO 80202
Fax: (303) 820.1502
Author: Paul Dougan

America Needs Tougher Sentencing Laws

Regarding former Coloradan Craig Davenport's alleged attempted rape
and murder of a Kansas girl ( "Attack on teen has angered Kansas
town," Oct. 9), many will decide the incident underscores the need to
"get tougher on crime."

The problem is that we often use "crime" in a general way which groups
all illegal acts together; thus, voter sentiment to "get tougher on
crime" as often as not results in jailing more and more victimless
criminals, such as those caught selling marijuana or LSD.

As a recent "60 Minutes" reported, there are people serving sentences
of 25 years for stealing a piece of pizza under three-strikes-and-you're-out
statutes. Such laws only make America more repressive.

On the other hand, it's obvious Davenport should never have been
released. For two cold-blooded murders, 35 years isn't a tough enough
sentence; he should've gotten life without parole. And to be released
after a mere 15 years for "good prison behavior" is obscene.

We need to separate the crime wheat from the crime chaff. In several
states, violent criminals have even been released early to make room
for peaceful convicted pot dealers. That's insane.

America needs less repression and far tougher sentences for violent
criminals. For many of them, it should be one strike and you're out.

Let's stop using our jails to warehouse those whose values Bill
Bennett disapproves of or who commit non-violent property crimes;
let's put the violent psychopaths there to stay.

PAUL DOUGAN Manitou Springs
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