Under U.S. law, the federal government may detain inmates convicted of sex-offenses indefinitely, even if they have completed their sentence. All the Department of Justice needs to do is convince a federal judge that an inmate is too dangerous to be released, and that inmate can be held forever, regardless of his original sentence. Attorneys representing these inmates continue to fight this blatant due process violation. For some strange reason they believe that the Constitution requires that a person be imprisoned for a particular crime that has been proven to a jury rather than just some vague allegation of dangerousness.
Similarly, Dale Bickerstaff notes the tremendous difficulty sex offenders face after they are released from prison when they try to reintegrate into society. Mr. Bickerstaff served sixteen years in prison for rape starting in 1985, he got his drug problem under control, he married a woman with five children and grandchildren, and he has been a free man since 2001. Yet, that pesky rape conviction has persistently made it difficult for him to find any lasting employment. He is apparently not dangerous enough to prevent his release from prison but still too dangerous to be meaningfully reintegrated into society. Has modern society lost all faith in rehabilitation?
The Virginia House of Delegates rejected Tracy Thorne–Begland for a judgeship last week because he is openly gay. The state senate did not even grant him the courtesy of a vote. Thorne-Begland courageously came out as an openly gay naval officer twenty years ago in protest of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and he is raising twins with his partner. Modern anti-gay marriage activists may say that they have nothing against homosexuality and are simply protecting traditional marriage, but their actions speak louder than their words. Denying a qualified candidate a judgeship based simply on his sexual orientation and his exercise of his right to fight for equal protection is nothing short of bigotry.
Ashlie Simpson claims that she was improperly fired from her job as a student service adviser at Colorado Christian University because she was “living in sin.” In 2010, a school vice-president chastised Simpson for having coffee and donuts with a married male enrollment counselor. The vice-president announced to her that he had discussed donutgate with several others and they were concerned that she was a distraction to the male counselor’s marriage. Then, in 2011, the human resources director asked Simpson whether she was living with and having sex with her boyfriend, and informed her that these sinful acts were grounds for termination. So remember ladies, if you want to stay in good standing with your conservative employer, you had better remain celibate until marriage and only socialize with female co-workers. You wouldn’t want to be a distraction to the men in the office.
A Maryland Court of Appeals has held that it is unconstitutional to collect DNA from arrestees. The court held that DNA is unnecessary to confirm the identity of arrestees, and it was unnecessary to prove the assault charges in this particular case. Of course, the court has upheld warrantless DNA collection from convicts, so this ruling really does not invalidate the state’s ability to collect DNA from people. It simply requires that people actually be convicted of a crime rather than just being arrested before the state gets to start performing suspicionless identity checks.
A Kentucky Catholic High School barred two students from attending the prom as a same-sex couple. School administrators cited Catholic guidelines in barring the students. Presumably, those guidelines would not have barred the two students from showing up dateless at the door and then spending all evening together once they were past the bouncers. Unless school administrators are also policing the inside of the prom to ensure an appropriate level of heterosexual contact, what difference does it make to the school to allow them to walk through the door together? Is the school policing anyone else’s dates to make sure that no 9s are bringing 2s, seniors are not bringing freshman, no dog people are bringing cat people, and everyone is wearing appropriate fashion for 2012?