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July 30, 2007

Toothless GOP policy freakout...again!

The boneheads in the Washington state GOP, unable to resist the siren call of a craven race to the bottom, have decided to use the death of Zina Linnick to drive a political stunt. Many on the right have tried to use this as another flag to wave in their anti-brown-people "immigration" crusade, but that isn't really sticking since he came here legally and is a permanent legal resident. So instead they're going to make a display about sex offenders, as they did last year with their bogus (and now illegal) sex offender "notices", in order to scare people and try to make Democrats look "weak" on crime.

The claim is that they want sex offenders who fail to register to spend a year in jail. Under current sentencing guidelines, had Linnick's killer been caught earlier and charged with failure to register, he would have spent...you guessed it, a year in jail. His failure to register already classifies as a Class C felony, and combined with his prior convictions would have pushed him over the year mark, to about 15 months. (On the immigration front, an immigration court will decide if he should be deported, and will of course do so should he be convicted and sentenced to anything less than death.)

As usual, the proposals oozing forth from the GOP are toothless and symbolic, designed to placate a frightened public with a panacea of solution, steer some voters away from Democrats, and set up law enforcement as a fall guy when their laws inevitably fail to prevent someone's death at the hands of a sex offender. In classic Luntz fashion, it doesn't matter to the GOP if they work, and in fact it's better for them if they don't.

"Solutions" offered: Call an emergency 2-day session of the Legislature (something they would call a waste of taxpayer dollars if suggested by a D), mandatory one-year sentence for offenders who don't register, and a GPS tracking device.

All of which sounds great until you remember that A) a bill like this isn't going to pass in two days and this is just a stunt, B) judicial discretion exists for a reason, and C) the GOP will of course scream to high heaven when the state has to, you know...find a way to pay for all those GPS devices. Not to mention that they don't address the existing problem of how to find unregistered offenders with a system that is shorthanded and underfunded thanks to Republican funding priorities and anti-tax zealotry. (You'll recognize this as the same unspoken quandary preventing our deportation of 12 million illegal immigrants)

The bottom line is that over the years, we've cut our tax base through poorly thought-out initiatives and GOP grandstanding, resulting in underfunded fire protection and law enforcement. Add to this a federal GOP strategy built entirely around the idea of ensuring that government doesn't work, as the conservative worldview requires that government not work, and you see not just state and local, but federal funding for law enforcement cut. As the economy worsens for the have-nots, crime rises, and the remaining police have to spend their time dealing with day-to-day crimes and have no resources to do useful things like go looking for unregistered sex offenders. Instead, they have to wait for them to fall into their hands. What we're seeing with today's GOP press conference is their response to the down-line destruction they have wrought upon themselves. Life truly is circular, isn't it?

You really want to deal with sex offenders? I have a simple, three-step plan:

  1. Follow Goldy's advice and "stop being such a bunch of conniving, mean-spirited, ham-fisted assholes."
  2. Use your time in the legislature for policy, not politics. Knock it off with the anti-tax Eymanesque nonsense and figure out how we're going to keep paying our bills.
  3. Fully fund law enforcement, so they can dedicate resources to finding and prosecuting unregistered sex offenders.

It ain't magic. If police don't have the resources to find and track them, adding laws on top of laws requiring them to do so isn't going to change a thing. The GOP knows this, and they don't care, as long as they can keep their base frightened.

On the other hand, maybe the GOP could just tap Dino Rossi's idea bank! Lou Guzzo seems to have had a great idea for dealing with capital punishment.

Posted by switzerblog on July 30, 2007 at 02:57 PM in Policy | Permalink

Comments

I know some folks may be reticent to comment on this, as it is a bit unseemly to "politicize" such a tragic matter. Two things, though:

1: It's not us politicizing it, it's the GOP. I'm just pointing it out.

2: I think this guy Adhahn should have been arrested and deported years ago - that REALLY ISN'T the issue, despite what the GOP will push. The laws already exist to have done that. The real problem, and the one they didn't talk about today and will never talk about, is that without proper funding for law enforcement and proper resource allocation, the existing laws can't be enforced. There just isn't the manpower, and it's their politics that have created this situation. Stacking more laws on top of the existing laws won't change the resource problem law enforcement faces; it just gives them more laws they can't enforce until a criminal falls into their hands. I'll say it again - start funding the police the way they should be funded, and you save lives. It's really that simple.

Posted by: switzerblog | Jul 30, 2007 9:51:41 PM

Maybe if law enforcement wasn't so busy busting drug addicts, which are clogging the courts and jails, we would have the resources to solve crimes like these.

Posted by: uptown | Aug 5, 2007 2:28:01 PM

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