Saturday, March 19

JESSICA LUNSFORD A VICTIM OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

It's a weekend of absolute heartbreak in Florida and for those of us throughout the nation keeping a watchful eye on the tragic news emanating from that state. I just watched Terri Schiavo's mother plead for the life of her cognitively-disabled daughter during a brief, dignified, televised appeal to Florida legislators, Congressional legislators, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and President George W. Bush. It was heart-wrenching: her daughter, the love of her life, is being starved and dehydrated to death -- her feeding tube having been removed yesterday at around 1:45pm EST -- by court decree and owing to the callous disregard of her two-timing husband. In Terri's case, Florida state courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have turned a deaf ear to Terri Schiavo's plight. So she's now begun a slow, painful death that under the laws of the land cannot be perpetrated on Scott Peterson or a sickly dog.

Then we have the horrific death of a beautiful little girl, 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, in Homosassa Springs, Florida, by a convicted sex offender, John Evander Couey, who has been arrested 24 times over the span of three decades for "multiple arrests for burglary, carrying a concealed weapon, indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, larceny and drug charges", yet was living the life of a free man directly across the street from Jessica's home. The unwitting little girl became this beast's self-admitted victim.

Just watch this scenario unfold. Watch how John Evander Couey is afforded all the rights due him under the United States' Constitution, including, if he is convicted and sentenced to death, the proscrition in the Eighth Amendment against "cruel and unusual punishments." If he is ever put to death in Florida, many, many years from now after all of his legal appeals have been exhausted, he will die a quick, painless death by lethal injection. He'll be dead in a matter of minutes, but first he'll be put in a deep, deep sleep in a matter of seconds.

That's not how Circuit Court Judge George Greer has condemned Terri Schiavo to die, her only crime being that she is handicapped. And that's not how Jessica Lunsford died, a victim of not just the evildoer John Evander Couey -- a registered sex offender, who, among other crimes, "broke into a home and kissed a sleeping girl while exposing himself" -- but of the criminal justice system itself. Indeed, little Jessica was a victim of a criminal justice system that regularly puts innocent children in harm's way by going soft on society's miscreants and serious, repeat offenders.

FOLLOW-UP: John Couey: "a piece of trash" who lived with "a bunch of druggies" in the Lunsford's neighborhood.