Before I begin, I wanted to inform the readers of my column that, as of last week, I am no longer a candidate for the Maryland Senate. My job situation and the stress it's placing on my family require that I give finding work and being accessible to my family the highest priority.
We Christians often speak of our homes as "our first ministry," and that is where I need to be. It was one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make; I believed I could make a difference and give the people back the government that has been taken from them over the years. Although I know my decision was the right one, my head and my heart aren't on speaking terms right now. If you're so inclined, I'd welcome a thought and a prayer.
I struggled with what to write about this week. There was a great story about how Maryland is now aligning itself with a confederation of northeastern rather than southern states, reflecting a change in its "border state" duality. Maryland Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller, as is his custom, made some comment that was a barely veiled slap at an entire region and, in the process, threw many hard-working, decent southern Marylanders under the bus as well. He recently claimed Governor O'Malley would be the last state executive under whom he would serve; for the sake of Maryland, not to mention his wife, children and grandchildren, I hope he means it this time.
The past few days have certainly been historic from a social and political perspective. The seemingly unstoppable march of the federal government toward a controlling interest in people's lives reached a milestone yesterday with the signing of President Obama's nearly $1 trillion health overhaul. His place in the history books is now secure; he accomplished what his predecessors of decades past couldn't. America's place in the world, as an exceptional nation with its core identity fashioned around the sovereignty of the individual and the constraint of government power, is also history.
Sometimes, however, an issue is so timely and action so critical, it pushes everything else aside.
People who have followed Maryland politics over the past half-decade or so know the battles in which children's' advocates have engaged to enact stricter sentencing and monitoring guidelines to protect children against convicted child sex offenders.
Delegate Joseph Vallario, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a practicing defense attorney, and Senator Brian Frosh, chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, have been major obstacles to mandatory sentencing of convicted child sex offenders without the possibility of parole or reduced time for good behavior. They bleat about judicial discretion while these predators are released from the system too early and, according to a California study, commit more violent crimes against children than before their initial incarceration. In plain language, they get out and graduate from child rape to murder.
During the 2006 and 2007 General Assembly sessions, the battle raged between childrens' advocates and these legislators on the implementation of "Jessica's Law." This legislation is patterned after a Florida statute and so named in honor of Jessica Lunsford, a nine-year old girl kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered by a repeat sex offender who buried her alive, saying he "didn't want people seeing him and Lunsford across the street."
It took the unrelenting spotlight of Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilley to eventually force Chairman Vallario to relent and release the bill to the floor for a vote. It passed unanimously in the House of Delegates, and only three senators, one of them Senator Frosh, voted against it.
The renewed attention on this issue came about as the result of the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Haley Foxwell, an 11-year old girl from Salisbury whose body was found on Christmas Day after she was taken from her home three days prior. Her killer was a repeat child sex offender who had been arrested at least seven times since 1998 for sex-related crimes, and who has been on the state's sex offender registry for 11 years. In all that time, however, he cumulatively spent only a year in jail. Even Governor O'Malley was moved by the horror of this crime:
"She was brutally, callously, monstrously murdered, tortured and killed here on the Eastern Shore, this beautiful place, blessed by God with beauty and kindness...All of us, when this happens, we ask ourselves, what could we have done differently?"
"The murders of children really, I mean, very rightly capture everybody's attention. We all see our own child in the murder of a child . . . but how do you stop something like that? How do you know when somebody is going to break like that and do something you could never, ever imagine?"
There are several bills before the General Assembly to address loopholes in law enforcement and enhance information sharing, supervision and prosecution of child sex offenders, and support to victims of child sexual abuse. The bill that would toughen mandatory sentences of child sex offenders who commit second-degree rape (i.e., without a weapon), Senate Bill 622, is being held up in committee by Senator Frosh, and he has indicated privately he intends to keep it in his desk drawer until the end of the session. The House version of the bill passed unanimously after public pressure forced Chairman Vallario to let it come to the floor for a vote.
Senator Frosh has a clear conflict of interest in this case. He would be defending accused sexual predators in court, and mandatory sentencing would tie his hands and not allow him to make deals on behalf of his clients. This shouldn't be about him, however; whatever goes haywire in a person's brain that drives them to sexually assault and, subsequently, murder a child is what matters.
He is a modern-day Pharoah; his heart is so hardened he cannot see the faces of Sarah Foxwell, Jessica Lunsford, or 11-year old Irvin Harris, a Baltimore boy who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a repeat sex offender who did a total of 19 months in jail for two previous convictions of child sexual abuse.
The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect our rights and protect us from harm, whether from external or internal threats to national security, or from people who break the law. Senator Frosh is derelict in his duty and, while his permissive constituents - permissive, that is, unless it's prudent, validated by the wisdom of the age and makes common sense - may think he stands on principle, I think he tramples on his oath of office.
In that oath, he swears "I will not directly or indirectly, receive the profits or any part of the profits of any other office during the term" in which he serves. Clearly, he profits personally by blocking laws that adversely affect his potential clients and his livelihood as a trial attorney.
The last time Senator Frosh stood in the way of protecting our children, it took a powerful man to move him aside.
Senator Miller, I know you occasionally read this column. You are a father and grandfather yourself, and you know how precious our children are to us. I know you'd walk through fire to protect your grandchildren from the evil in this world.
Use the power God has granted you as the President of the Senate to move this man out of the way so we can prevent another parent from being told on Christmas Day that their child was found murdered, and that she suffered unspeakably at the hands of a sex-crazed monster before she died.
Folks, please contact Senator Miller's office at (410) 841-3700, (301) 858-3700, or 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3700 (toll free). Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask him to honor Sarah Foxwell's sacrifice and bring Senate Bill 622 to a vote. Call or write today; the time is now.
Ron Miller, of Huntingtown, is a military veteran, conservative writer and activist, communications director for the Calvert County Republican Party, and executive director of Regular Folks United, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Ron is a regular contributor to RegularFolksUnited.com, American Thinker, and RedCounty.com. You can also follow Ron on his website TeamRonMiller.com, as well as Twitter and Facebook.