Ron Paul
2002 Ron Paul Chapter 16

Federal Penalties For Child Sexual Abuse

14 March 2002

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2002 Ron Paul 16:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, as an OB–GYN who has had the privilege of bringing over 3,000 children into the world, I share the desire to punish severely those guilty of sexual abuse of children. In fact, it is hard to imagine someone more deserving of life in prison than one who preys on children. However, I must offer a cautionary note to the legislation before us, which would establish a mandatory lifetime sentence for anyone convicted of two child sexual abuse crimes.

2002 Ron Paul 16:2
The bill before us today simply expands Federal penalties for already existing Federal crimes, and does not in any way infringe on the jurisdiction of the States. However, Mr. Chairman, I would ask my colleagues to consider whether child sexual abuse should be a Federal crime at all. The Constitution specifies three Federal crimes, namely treason, piracy, and counterfeiting. It is a stretch, to say the least, to define child abuse as a form of treason, piracy, or counterfeiting. Therefore, perhaps the best means of dealing with child sexual abuse occurring on Federal lands across State lines is to turn the suspected perpetrator over to the relevant local jurisdiction and allow the local authorities to prosecute the crime.

2002 Ron Paul 16:3
As I stated before, it certainly is a legitimate exercise of government power to impose a lifetime sentence on those guilty of multiple sex crimes against children. However, I would ask my colleagues to consider the wisdom of Congress’ increased reliance on mandatory minimums. Over the past several years we have seen a number of cases with people sentenced to life, or other harsh sentences, that appear to offend basic principles of justice. Even judges in many of these cases admit that the sentences imposed are in no way just, but the judiciary’s hands are tied by the statutorily imposed mandatory minimums.

2002 Ron Paul 16:4
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, while I believe this is a worthy piece of legislation, I hope someday we will debate whether expanding Federal crimes (along with the use of congressionally mandated mandatory minimum sentences) is consistent with constitutional government and fundamental principles of justice.

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