Friday, November 30, 2001

Maryland is considering life sentences for convicted sexual psychopaths a common sense idea that ought to be adopted as soon as possible. The push to change existing law comes in the wake of the much-publicized and horrific murder last year in Frederick of 11-year-old Christopher Lee Ausherman. Christopher was sexually assaulted before he was killed by a just-released multiple offender with a long history of violent behavior. Elmer Spencer Jr. had been out of prison for only a couple of days after serving a pathetic three-and-a-half years of a 10-year sentence for an earlier assault when he attacked and killed the little boy. Spencer is awaiting trial on murder and sexual assault charges.

What makes the death of the Maryland boy so appalling is that it should not have been allowed to happen. And “allowed” is the correct word because the fact that the system as it is currently constituted released an Elmer Spencer back on the streets cannot be described in gentler terms. He was allowed to kill Christopher.

Individuals who attack children and commit sexual assaults upon them are considered effectively untreatable by modern psychiatry, and the consensus is that they will repeat their vile activities over and over, if given the chance. “We know in dealing with psychopaths that there is no treatment that will work on them,” said Richard B. Rosenblatt, director of mental health for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. “It’s our feeling they ought to be removed from the public at large, since they will re-offend.”

The Maryland General Assembly should approve the recommendations put forward by the task force, which is comprised of state secretaries of public safety and health and mental hygiene. Giving known violent sex offenders “another chance” at the almost sure expense of yet another child is simply unconscionable. These people should be “treated” in the only way they can be treated that is, permanently locked-up in a place where they cannot ever again threaten innocent children. It’s the least that can be done to right the wrong that was done to Christopher Ausherman.

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