The Legal System Kills Another Child: But So What? It Wasn’t A Judge’s Kid

Great Falls, Montana

“A portly, bearded short-order cook with a quarter-century history of molesting children was arraigned here today for snatching a young boy whose body, prosecutors said, was cut into pieces, cooked into stew and spaghetti sauce and fed to the man’s unwitting friends and neighbors.”

That’s from the Washington Post, not a campus newspaper attempting humor.

For the better than half a decade I’ve been on this beat, I’ve written this story over and over, with variations in the details. A dirtball molests children. A judge or parole board lets him go, or a psychiatrist decides that he has been reformed. He then tortures and kills several children. The newspapers react with outrage. The next month it happens again somewhere.

I point out the same things over and over. Some people are permanently broken. They can’t be fixed. Psychopaths don’t get better. Child molesters repeat. All predatory rapists are serial rapists. Sexual offenders are dangerous. How hard is this to understand?

So, for that matter, are serial violent criminals. I don’t mean the guy who gets in a fight in a bar, or the woman who clocks her husband with a vase. I mean the men who repeatedly hurt people in the commission of crime. They are going to do it again. Figure it out.

Much of our legal system is based on false premises. The Jeffersonian idea that a criminal starts with a clean slate when he has “paid his debt to society” is just plain nuts. If you punish a cobra and let it go, it will bite someone else. When a psychopath with sadistic sexual urges goes into jail, and comes out, he is still a psychopath with sadistic sexual urges. If he liked children going in, he will like children coming out. This is not rocket science.

We need to get a handle on this.

Sex is bizarre, and it is powerful. The normal variety is odd enough, but harmless. If a man has no conscience — and that is exactly the case with these guys — and his sex drive is directed toward dismembering children, then the only question for him becomes: Where can I get a child?

And five years of sitting in prison, and talking the glib convincing twaddle for which psychopaths are notorious, and finding Jesus (a standard jail-house tactic) will not change him. He is what he is. Certainly there is nothing in prison life that is likely to make him suffer a sudden access of morality.

From the Post: “A month after his release from the hospital in July 1991, Bar-Jonah was arrested in Worcester County, Mass, for assaulting a 7-year-old boy in a car while the boy’s mother was in a post office.” He pled down to breaking and entering and assault and got a couple of years of probation.


Breaking into a car to get at a little boy isn’t a property crime. (He broke the window. Oh.) It isn’t a crime of bad temper, like smacking a bartender. It is a sexual assault on a child. It is also clearly loony: The mother was nearby. The only answer is ellwop: Life Without Parole.

The same should be true of career violent criminals. Hurting people — shooting them, stabbing them, stomping them, pistol-whipping them — is a clear sign of being dangerous. Not of being errant, or misunderstood, or crying out for help, but of being unfixably dangerous.

If we had a responsible judiciary, I wouldn’t be in favor of mandatory sentences. They’re a bad idea. Three-felonies-and-it’s-life sounds good, sure. Then some jurisdiction drops its felony-shoplifting limit to a hundred bucks, a petty thief grabs a pricier bracelet than he thought, and mandatorily he’s in slam for life. Not good.

But for sexually violent predators, we need, desperately need, mandatory life sentences that judges, parole boards, and psychiatrists cannot alter.

I’ve talked to a fair number of violent nutcase criminals. They’re charming. They’re fluent. If they’re not charming, well, they seem so sincere. They didn’t do it all, or they’ve repented. Psychiatrists are suckers for these guys. Politically appointed parole boards don’t understand who they’re talking to. And somebody else’s kid ends up tortured and raped and strangled. The details typically would make you gag.

Oh yeah. Bones of what seem to be another kid have been found at Bar-Jonah’s place. The people in Massachusetts who let the guy go don’t care, I presume. It wasn’t their kid.

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