Thursday, July 24, 2008

Brooke Bennett – Vermont Continues to Send Mixed Messages

Brooke Bennett’s death was certainly a tragedy and has left emotions raw. Could her death have been prevented with tougher child abuse laws? Maybe - maybe not.

I’ve read several articles over the past few weeks and have commented on the finger pointing and accusations by both political parties.

Now it seems there is division of the ranks from top to bottom of the state.

Times Argus: In the few short weeks since 12-year-old Brooke Bennett was found murdered in Randolph Center, the chorus of Vermonters calling for tougher penalties against convicted pedophiles has swelled to a crescendo.

Their voices, scribbled on sheets of paper in gas stations and convenience stores around Vermont, will soon find their way to lawmakers in the Statehouse.

Two petitions calling on legislators to pass "Jessica's Law" have garnered thousands of signatures. One, circulated by Middlesex resident Angelo Napolitano, has the names of more than 2,000 registered voters. A separate petition authored by Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, meanwhile, already has "thousands" of signatures, Dubie said Tuesday.

"People are angry. People are frustrated," Napolitano said. "And they're saying it's time for Vermont to finally give these perverts the penalties they deserve."

From the Bennington Banner: Bennington officials say they are not yet prepared to follow the lead of Barre City and pass an ordinance banning convicted sex offenders from certain parts of town, but they are open to a discussion.

The Barre City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday — the first municipality in the state to do so — banning people convicted of most sex crimes from moving within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, or playgrounds. Rutland city officials are considering a similar ordinance.

Bennington Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd said local officials have not discussed adopting a similar ordinance, and he has not heard from the Select Board that members will discuss the matter.

"It has not at this time, and frankly, I don't know whether it will take place," Hurd said. "I'll be taking my lead from the Select Board if, in fact, they view this as a problem that needs to be dealt with."

The sad fact remains, this young girl with a bright future, is dead.

The Vermont legislature, the cities, the towns and even the residents seem to be all over the board in terms of how to best protect the vulnerable children of Vermont.

I wonder what it’s going to take for Vermont and every other state in the country to get serious about pedophiles.