Buy My Book Here

Fox News Ticker

Please check out my new books, "Bullied to Death: Chris Mackney's Kafkaesque Divorce and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the World's Last Custody Trial"

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Massachusetts Law, A Massachusetts Non Law: A Case Study in Secular Progressivism

Jessica Lunsford was a nine-year-old girl who was abducted from her home in Homosassa, Florida on February 23, 2005, then raped and murdered by 47-year-old John Couey. The case sparked controversy and in many ways it created the sort of critical mass necessary for serious and meaningful action against child predators.

In its aftermath, Jessica's Law was created first in her homestate of Florida and then (especially with the backing of her father Mark Lunsford and television bloviator Bill O'Reilly) throughout much of the rest of the country.

Here are the main components of Jessica's Law:

a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison[1] and lifetime
electronic monitoring[2] of adults convicted of lewd or lascivious acts against a victim less than 12 years old. In Florida, sexual battery or rape of a child less than twelveyears old is a capital felony, punishable only by death or life imprisonment with no chance of parole.[3]

Currently, only seven states have no intention of passing any form of Jessica's Law: New Jersey, Hawaii, Wyoming, Colorado, Vermont, Idaho, and Massachusetts.

In fact, Massachusetts' record on child predators is so weak that it is downright scary and dangerous for children.

in June 1999, George Roy was charged with sexual assault of a four-year old girl in Springfield. Roy had been given a two-year suspended sentence with probationin 1991, but never registered as a sex offender, although he had been registeredto vote all the while.

In June 1999, Michael Vick, a Lynn man with a history of convictions for breaking and entering and sex offenses was arrested for molesting a four-month old boy in Revere. A judge had lowered Vick’s bail in an October rape case from $25,000 to $5,000 in February, because the District Attorney did not take the opportunity to show the court that Vick was dangerous. The DA said that he did not want to harm the child victim in a dangerousness hearing, but a court official told Massachusetts News that a judge might have granted the petition even without the testimony of the victim. "An attempt should have been made by the District Attorney," the official said.

In November 1998, Eben Hoyt was arrested for dozens of child rapes while on probation, and while registered as a sex offender. Hoyt, a former Methuen school bus driver, pleaded guilty to molesting an eight-year old in 1996. He plea-bargained to avoid prison and was placed on probation.

In January 1999, a twice-convicted sex offender was arrested for raping a four-year old boy in Northboro.

Last fall, Frederick Wyatt used a 1994 Massachusetts law that allows convicted sex offenders to persuade a jury (rather than a judge) that they are no longer sexually dangerous. Wyatt refused treatment during his fifteen years in the Bridgewater Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous. State officials warned that Wyatt remained a danger and called for stronger criminal penalties and sex offender registration laws. Wyatt moved to Ohio after his release.

This April, Brian Nagle, who had been convicted of sex crimes in 1987 and 1996, and was registered as a level III (most dangerous) sex offender, raped a six-year old boy in Amesbury, was sentenced to life in prison, but will be eligible for parole after fifteen years.

Currently in Massachusetts, the guidelines for sexual assault against a child under thirteen is an absurd three years in prison. That's because, in the absurd view of the secular progressives that run the states, child predators need treatment not punishment.

Now, while the state of Massachusetts seems to be quite lax when it comes to child predators, they are quite gung ho in protecting children from other "abuse": spanking.

Kids out of line? Spanking might not be an option in Massachusetts if a proposal takes hold in the state legislature.

The proposal, submitted by a nurse, would ban corporal punishment, including spanking, in all cases for children under 18 unless it is to save them from danger. Parents would face charges of abuse or neglect, according to The Boston Herald.Click here to read the full report in The Boston Herald.

A hearing and debate is scheduled in the State House on the measure Wednesday, the paper reports.Democratic state Rep. Jay Kaufman introduced the measure onbehalf of the nurse, but isn't taking a position on it...

Here is another view of the proposed law to ban spanking by parents of their children.

Massachusetts lawmakers say a proposed measure that would ban parents from spanking their children, even in their own homes, is a way to protect kids from abuse. But many parents believe it's an example of government run amok.

In all 50 states, parents are legally allowed to spank their children. But in 29 states it's illegal for a teacher to practice corporal punishment, including spanking.

A Massachusetts nurse is hoping to change that and make the state the first in the nation to ban corporal punishment at home."I think it's ironic that domestic violence applies to everyone except the most vulnerable  children," said Kathleen Wolf, who wrote the bill.

I am not necessarily a huge fan of spanking, however it is not only ironic but downright shameful that a state moves quicker to stop parents from deciding for themselves what punishment their kids should have than they do from protecting children from actual child predators.

Such is the absurd and perverse world view of the secular progressives. In their world, all criminals need treatment not punishment. At the same time, parenting decisions are taken away from the parents and controlled rather by the states. In some sense, child predators have more rights than parents.

Make no mistake, this is exactly the culture war that O'Reilly was talking about in his book Culture Warrior. If anyone wants to know just how the world would look if the secular progressives ever got power, they only need to look at the absurd dichotomy of these two areas in Massachusetts.


Anonymous said...

A trenchant commentary on the absurd priorities of Massachusetts laws and lawmakers.

The attempt to link the twisted priorities to a "secular progressive" mindset is less well-established. You seem to take it for granted that the two are linked just because the state in question is Massachusetts. They may well be linked, but you have not shown this.

mike volpe said...

First, it is a hallmark of all secular progressives to believe in rehabilitation rather than prison for criminals. Second, it is a hallmark of secular progressives to look for any way to take rights away from parents and give them to the state. Third, I guess I assumed that it was fairly established that the powers that be in Massachusetts are in fact secular progressive. Apparently, I should have spent time showing that. Do I also need to show that San Francisco is secular progressive as well?

Radiant Times said...

Wow, you think this will come out more as Romney tried for a NH win?

mike volpe said...

It's already out however it has little to do with Romney. The anti spanking law is fairly new, and while he could have theoretically toughened up child predator laws, this didn't become an issue until after he left office. Furthermore, given the make up of the legislature he would have had a difficult time doing it. Though, that is really no excuse. It is the governor's job to protect his citizens and no one is more vulnerable than the children. I doubt very much that this will affect Romney, however it should be a reflection on Massachusetts as well as secular progressivism in general.

Anonymous said...

I consider myself secular and progressive, but I believe in prison for criminals. I also wish parents took more responsibility for their children rather than putting the responsibility on society and the education system. So I'm not sure that you're on very firm ground with what you write about if you're so off base with what secular progressives believe.

mike volpe said...

Let me see if I understand the fifth comment correctly. An anonymous poster claims to be secular progressive however they don't believe in the two secular progressive virtues I discussed in the piece, and that makes me wrong.

Huh. First, how did you come to the conclusion that you are secular progressive?

Second your own view of yourself as a secular progressive is irrelevant, and even less relevant is your view of punishment for child predators and spanking.

Secular progressivism is an ideology with set principles and rehabilitation over punishment is one of those views, even if you don't subscribe to it.

What you are saying would be the equivalent of me extolling the virtues of fiscal conservatism and then you saying that you see yourself as a fiscal conservative but find nothing wrong with outlandish spending, and then saying that view makes my arguement weak.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your "hallmark" understanding of what secular progressive means. Secular means wanting a separation of church and state, and progressive, in my view, means wanting government to work more effectively, wanting less corruption in government, less K Steet influence in government, some regulation of business....

You've created your own definition of the ideology to better fit your argument.

mike volpe said...

Thank you for your definition of the words, however in this case as in many cases, when words are combined together they don't necessarily mean what they mean separately. You can say whatever you want about how words are defined, this story speaks for itself.

Anonymous said...

Are you clear on the difference between a law and a proposal? Not a single legislator has yet endorsed, let alone voted for, the anti-spanking proposal. Somehow its mere consideration indicts several million MA residents?

And aren't you at least interested in the details of the bill? After all, everyone agrees there's some limit to what parents can do physically to their children -- they can't mercilessly beat them or feed them Clorox in the name of punishment. So even you agree the government can draw the line somewhere, and this bill is simply drawing that line a bit more strictly than you would like. So your position, in the end, is that its outrageous for MA legislators to even debate where the line should be drawn, lest they unforgivably end up disagreeing with you. Damn liberals!

mike volpe said...

I am clear which is why I referred to it as a proposed law. It is insane to outlaw spanking. Child abuse, I assume, is already illegal under Massachusetts law or they are really in trouble.

This law specifically deals with spanking, and while you are correct that the law make distinctions in the level of spanking you aren't going to get around the fact that Massachusetts is trying to outlaw spanking. After all, politicians don't PROPOSE a law unless they hope to eventually follow through.

I know that this time could be spend enacting Jessica's law which would protect the children a lot more than any anti spanking law.

If you don't see that a legislature has their priorities out of whack when they refuse to punish child predators but pursue a PROPOSED law that would punish parents for spanking their children, then I can't help you.

Anonymous said...

Again, you made a critical mistake by saying "Massachusetts is trying to outlaw spanking." MA hasn't done anything. Once a law is passed, it's reasonable to use that language. As of now, a single citizen is proposing something. Condemning an entire state based on one person's proposal is a bit of an exaggeration.

By the way, you've got the facts all wrong. You can read about MA's sex laws at The law you linked and referred to is only 'inducement' of sex for someone under 18. Actual sexual abuse of a child under 16 can carry up to life in prison in MA. The difference Jessica's Law makes is the mandatory minimum, but that's a complaint to be made to individual judges and juries, not MA law.

mike volpe said...

Let me take the second first. Of course, that sort of crime can carry up to a long sentence. That is irrelevant. We wouldn't need Jessica's law if judges applied laws properly. they don't. Jessica's killer could have gotten a significantly higher sentence for a prior crime. he didn't and was out on the street. Of course, we are talking about mandatory minimums because judges have proven that they cannot be trusted to employ proper judgement.

As to the first, again, I identified them as proposing a law. You are getting into word games. Of course, the legislature is trying to outlaw spanking. If this becomes law, they will outlaw spanking. The point is that the legislature finds time to try and outlaw spanking and sets a policy in place where a child molestor can go away for as little as three years.

Charlemagne said...


Mike is absolutely correct in his definition of a secular progressive. In a nutshell an SP is someone that believes that government is the solution to most, if not all, mans' problems. Conservatives, like myself, believe that in almost all circumstances government causes more harm than good. Some SP's are so because they act based on how they feel rather than on reason and from such thinking Liberal solutions usually follow. Others, like HRC, are really little more than power hungry Marxists who seek to control pretty much everything via the state with them at the head of the beast. These types of SP's truly believe they are smarter than average citizens and therefore should be in positions of power to control the lives of we poor, ignorant, helpless children.

1. Health care - all Dem presidential candidates want the government to provide care in one way or another rather than letting the individual decisions of millions of citizens free from regulation determine the best solution.
2. The environment - again the Dems want to regulate automobile emissions via increased CAFE standards instead of the more effective solution of raising gas taxes. Using a club when a screwdriver wold be more effective. Higher gas taxes would allow citizens to determine their own desired level of consumption and vehicle choice thus allowing consumers to drive down emissions. This approach would be a Hell of a lot more effective than the CAFE changes which won't be mandatory until 2020.

To assume the government can somehow solve all our problems is to bestow intelligence on a group of people who have demonstrated time and again that they do not possess.

Anonymous said...

Your comments about Massachusetts law and proposed Massachusetts legislation are completely wrong. Here’s why.

(1) You said “Currently in Massachusetts, the guidelines for sexual assault against a child under thirteen is an absurd three years in prison.” As a former criminal prosecutor in Massachusetts for 11 years, I know this to be outrageously false.

The maximum sentence for rape of a child under 16 is life in prison. The maximum sentence for touching the private parts of a child under 14 (but not including sexual intercourse, anal or oral sex, or the penetration of the vagina or anus of a child by anything by any amount) is 10 years for a first offense and life for a second offense. .

The crime that you claim is rape of a child under 13 years of age is really statutory rape – sexual intercourse with a teenager between 16 – 18 years of age, WITH THE CONSENT OF THAT TEENAGER. If there is no consent, then the crime constitutes rape and is punishable by up to20 years in prison for a first offense and life for a second offense.

Statutory rape laws assume that teenagers below a certain age cannot legally consent to sex. The age of consent varies by state from age 14 - 18. The age of consent in Massachusetts is 18.

(2) You also falsely stated “Now, while the state of Massachusetts seems to be quite lax when it comes to child predators, they are quite gung ho in protecting children from other "abuse": spanking.”

The Massachusetts Legislature has a tradition of allowing any citizen to introduce ANY proposed legislation, no matter how absurd, for consideration by the Legislature. A citizen simply submits bill to his/her legislator, and the legislator introduces it.

A major clue that such a bill is going nowhere, is a statement by the legislator who introduced it that he/she has “no position” on the matter. This constitutes code to other legislators that “I introduced this bill for a constituent. Please don’t take it seriously, and kill it as soon as possible.”

Please note that the anti-spanking bill was introduced by a legislator for his constituent. That legislator has “no position on the matter”.

mike volpe said...

Obviously, the last Mr. Ms. Anonymous who tried to impress me with their former prosecutor credentials also didn't read the comments or frankly article carefully.

I don't much care what the maximum is because as my article shows judges take matters into their own hands and hand down plenty of short sentences using the lax sentencing guidelines.

Jessica Lunsford's killer could have been in jail for a lot longer than he was for his previous crime as well, however he got a lax sentence was out on the street.

I source several examples out of hundreds if not thousands in the state of Massachusetts where molestors are given light sentences. Just because the judge has the ability to sentence someone to a strong sentence doesn't mean they will, unless the minimum is a strong, 25 year sentence.

Pointing out the maximum that a judge can grant in Massachusetts for child molestation is another example of a straw man arguement. I don't care what judges can sentence a molestor to because all too often they don't. If you are happy with your state giving every judge the ability to sentence any molestor to as little as three years, that is your problem however there are just too many cases of that power being abused with tragic results, and Jessica Lunsford is just one example.

The bill may in fact be going nowhere and that has much to do with the media attention, however again, the legislature so fit to find time to debate this bill but found no time to instill Jessica's Law. If you find this acceptable then again that is your problem.

I personally have a huge problem with a legislature trying to outlaw spanking while having no time to make sure that predators are taken off the street.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you were wrong -- admit it!

You first falsely stated what the maximum sentence is for rape of a child in Massachusetts.

Once caught, you said it doesn't matter that you were wrong.

It doesn't? It seems to me that it kills your argument.

Then you still try to claim that the Massachusetts legislature is behind the anti-spanking bill that not one Massachusetts legislator actually supports.

The facts keep getting in the way of your arguments.

mike volpe said...

I'm not wrong and I never falsely said anything. If I was unclear that these were minimums then I apologize, however you simply didn't read my article carefully. I cited several instances in which molestors got reduced sentences from judges.

The Jessica's law campaign was never about setting maximums but minimums.

Just because you cannot read carefully doesn't make me wrong.

Anonymous said...

The "guideline" sentence that you first mentioned was 3 years. That was the MAXIMUM sentence for the crime that you cited -- statutory rape. There is no minimum sentence for statutory rape in Massachusetts.

I'm well aware that you have no experience in criminal justice. If you did, you'd realize that making decisions about sentencing isn't as black and white as you suggest.

For instance, I had case of indecent assault & battery of a child case years ago. There were 2 - TWO!!! - young victims. They were completely traumatized by the incident and refused to testify at trial. (I also knew that the pervert had committed many other similar incidents in the past. These cases couldn't be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations.)

My options: (1) put them on the stand, the children refuse to testify and the pervert is found not guilty; or (2) Agree to recommend a suspended sentence (probation) if the pervert pleads guilty.

Note that under option 2, I look bad -- extremely bad.

Under option 1, my case falls apart because the 2 kids are too scared to testify. That's their decision, not mine. But the next day's news articles will blame the fears of the victims, and me.

I took option 2. I did so knowing I'd get attacked by people like you who don't take the time (or don't care) to learn why I did what I did. I also knew that if the pervert got caught again, he'd be looking at a life sentence (assuming that the victim would testify).

It's very easy to say everyone charged with sexual abuse of children should receive a very long sentence. But looking at the issue from the trenches of the criminal justice system, that isn't always possible.

Incidentally, what would you do when a 10 year old boy and his mother and father begs you to accept a plea bargain giving a pervert a small number of years in prison, because the child is scared to death to testify?

mike volpe said...

I didn't cite one case but rather several cases, and the article I cited had several others and that is just in the state of Massachusetts.

I know that you think you are going to impress some folks with your experience but it isn't impressing me.

Jessica's law was specifically created to deal with judges that think, like you, that sentencing guidelines are more complicated than us simpletons think. As such, they give molestors 3,5 and 7 year sentences and then those same molestors go out and moleste more kids.

Your constant belief that this is about maximums and that I am miscontruing things as a result in nonsense. It isn't.

If you have a child that is unwilling to testify you, as the prosecutor, can always plead that charge down to something that doesn't fit the Jessica's law statute. This isn't about you the prosecutor but rather the judges.

Judges have shown all too often that they can't be trusted in handing down sentencing to child molestors. As such, Jessica's law takes that discretion, a discretion that you think they deserve, out of their hands.

Anonymous said...

I'm not arguing against mandatory minimum sentences. (Although you'd be amazed at how creative judges can get around them in ways that no appeals court, anywhere, would reverse -- or even recognize.)

I'm arguing with your bogus characterization of criminal law in Massachusetts.

I know that Massachusetts has a reputation for being liberal. That makes it an easy target for people like you.

But the facts got in your way this time.

mike volpe said...

Yet the minimum sentence for a child molestor in Massachusetts is three years. Gee, whatever gave the state that rep.

Anonymous said...

Seventeen states have no mandatory minimum sentences for the sexual abuse of children.

Massachusetts protects kids under 18 by criminalizing sex with anyone aged 17 or younger even with their consent. Three other
states have this rule. The rest only protect children younger than 17 - many up to age 12 or 14.

Many would argue that Massachusetts law is too strict in this regard.

As to your comment that secular progressives run the state, please note that Mitt Romney was its former governor. No one would accuse Romney of being secular.

But although I'll freely admit that Romney's positions have "evolved" since he was governor, no one could ever accuse him of being a progressive. Nor could they so accuse past governors Jane Swift, Paul Cellucci, or William Weld -- all Republicans.

Make your arguments about mandatory minimum sentences if you will, but your comments about Massachusetts are wrong.

mike volpe said...

Jessica's Law is either already Law or about to be in over forty of the fifty states. Mass is NOT one of them.

I never said anything about Republicans you did. I said the SP mindset that infects states like Mass.

You can play all the word games you like, but Jessica's Law is NOT in your state. In Mass the minimum sentence for a child molestor is three years.

Now, I don't know what facts you speak of however I do know that án anti spanking Law was on the agenda and Jessica's Law was not.

This legislature thought that punishing spanking parents was of higher priority than keeping child predators off the streets.

Anonymous said...

You claim that secular progressives think that sexual predators need treatment not punishment. Massachusetts disagrees.

Massachusetts previously had a fabulous program where sexual predators who finished serving time in prison could then be civilly committed to a locked ward for sexual offender treatment. They wouldn't be released until they were deemed "treated".

I loved this law. A predator who finishes up a sentence remains locked up -- just in a different building. Since everyone knows they can't be successfully treated, guess what happens. (Yeah -- some got out. But well after they otherwise would have.)

Then the pro-punishment, anti-treatment people got involved. They successfully shut down the treatment program. Loads of nasty predators that looked like they'd spend the rest of their natural lives in state custody were instead cut loose.

Killing the treatment program was great politics -- just bad policy.

Anonymous said...

You said that the anti-spanking law was on the Massachusetts legislature's agenda but Jessica's law was not.

Not true -- again!

House Bill 1688 of the current session (2007 - 2008) provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for child rapists of 20 years in prison. (Go to
, page 5 of the bill at section 12.)

OK -- Jessica's law is for a mandatory 25 years of imprisonment and this bill is for a mere 20 years. If you want to say that a mandatory 20 year minimum is wimpy or what you'd expect from Massachusetts "secular progressives", fine.

Incidentally, when H. 1688 was first introduced it had 11 co-sponsors. It had a public hearing last November.

The bottom line: You are WRONG!

mike volpe said...

Let me answer both at once.

First, I do not know the constitutionality of civilly committing someone that has already served their time however Jessica's Law would accomplish the same thing.

As to the bill, I cannot open the Link from my BlackBerry however I will take your word for it. This Law has obviously gotten no farther than this public hearing that you speak of and so then I amend my point.

Jessica's Law gets as much Attention from the legislature as anti spanking.

That is quite obscene only not as obscene as no Attention at all and likely the backers of Jessica's Law were the conservative members of the legislature whereas the spanking Law is backed entirely by the SP's.

Also, one of the reasons that the spanking Law has stalled is the media Attention that was shined on it from the likes of O'Reilly.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the reason the anti-spanking bill is stalled (actually - dead) is because NOT ONE LEGISLATOR ever supported it.

House bill 1688 had a hearing in November of 2007. It will be up for committee debate later this winter. Unlike the anti-spanking bill, this bill has legislative support.

My point all along is that you have mischaracterized Massachusetts law and Massachusetts politics. Leave Massachusetts alone and I'm gotta here. (Probably not soon enough for you.)

mike volpe said...

Why would I want anyone who engages in a spirited debate on my blog. I think my response will have to be in another diary...stay tuned...

mike volpe said...

Here is my updated piece...

Anonymous said...

And now Michael Vick lives in Marietta, GA where he manages apartment complexes and prides himself for renting to mostly single mothers. But now of them are aware of what he's done.