The latest - and weirdest - arguments against SOL reform
It boggles my mind, but it's clear that some value the reputations of a few adults over the safety of many kids. This includes many who oppose reforming the child predator's best pal - the statute of limitations.
UCLA professor Stephen Bainbridge seems to be one such misguided individual. But instead of trotting out the usual stale arguments, Bainbridge has come up with a few new, and bizarre claims about why SOL is allegedly so terrible and why, he opposes California's SB 131, a measure we support.
Here are a couple of Bainbridge's odd notions.
1. Bainbridge writes "As time goes by, the likelihood increases that an offender has reformed, making punishment less necessary.
Really Professor? Where's the data? I suspect you may be right about car jackers and pick pockets (who rely on their physical strength and speed to succeed). But I also suspect you're dead wrong about child molesters (who rely on their experience and cunning to succeed). Many child sex offenders "improve" with age, learning better how to painstakingly spot and carefully groom and slowly molest kids. And I've seen no proof that somehow, the passage of time magically cures a compulsive, serial child predator.
2. Bainbridge apparently doesn’t like our society’s long-standing practice of holding some employers responsible for the crimes of some of their employees. He writes that the idea described above, that "time lessens the justification for punishment," is "even more true" with respect to the employers of offenders than the offenders themselves.
Huh? Does the professor believe that again, the mere passage of time somehow inevitably leads employers to act more responsibly and carefully?
It seems to me that the reverse is far more likely: if a corporation acts recklessly and pays no penalty, it is more apt to continue acting recklessly.
3. Bainbridge writes "Statutes of limitations provide an overall sense of security and stability for human affairs."
I’m generally uncomfortable with vague sweeping claims that one thing or another is good for “human affairs,” which seem pretty complex to me. But two groups of adults clearly benefit from statutes of limitations: those who employ child molesters and those who run insurance companies.
So if your goal is "security and stability" for these folks, by all means, work against SB 131. If, however, your goal is to stop more criminals from committing and concealing child sex crimes, please back SB 131.
Maybe I’m unreasonable but I’m a tad more worried about the "security and stability" of innocent and vulnerable youngsters, not complicit or profit-seeking adults.
Finally, I'm struck by one Supreme Court case Bainbridge selects to justify his position. It's Calder v. Bull. Ironically, it was decided a very long time ago - in 1798.
Haven't we learned a bit since then about how pervasive and pernicious child sex crimes are? And can't we modernize our laws to reflect our increased understanding so we can better protect our kids?