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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Make sex assault suspects pay

- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2011

The fact that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was released on an unsecured bond, given that he is charged with 40 counts of sexually assaulting children, is outrageous ("For Penn State's Mike McQueary, questions and a leave," Web, Nov. 11).

Sadly, too often individuals charged with serious crimes, like Mr. Sandusky, walk out of jail and almost no precautions are taken to ensure they return for their trial. Mr. Sandusky was released on an unsecured bond, meaning he did not pay a deposit to the court or a bail bond agent. He simply gave authorities his word that he would return for trial and is only required to pay if he fails to reappear. Given the shameful acts he is accused of, the public is rightly outraged at his get-out-of-jail-free pass.

If Mr. Sandusky does flee it, would not be the first time a high-profile sex offender ran away. The most famous case is that of filmmaker Roman Polanski, who in 1977 fled to Paris to avoid sentencing in his assault of a 13-year-old girl. Also similar to Mr. Sandusky's situation: Just weeks ago a man accused of raping an 11-year-old girl walked out of jail in Johnsburg, N.Y., without paying any bail.

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits "excessive bail," which is generally interpreted to mean that arrested individuals are given the opportunity to post bail. What this amendment does not say is dangerous sex offenders and criminals should be allowed to walk out of jail without paying anything.

We need to change our state laws so individuals who are accused of violent crimes are not allowed to leave jail on an unsecured bond. A secure bond would provide the added layer of protection of having a bounty hunter, in addition to the police, searching for those who flee. Georgia and New Jersey have already enacted legislation to restrict alleged offenders like Mr. Sandusky from being eligible for free bail.

We are currently failing to protect our communities and failing to ensure that justice is served to those who prey on innocent children.

STATE REP. MICHAEL HOUGH

Maryland District 3B

Brunswick, Md.

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