I wish I could say I’m shocked—shocked! Unfortunately, I’m not. Hell, I’m not even especially surprised.
What ignited this rant was an article in the newspaper. I was on page A6 of the Friday, December 16, 2016 edition of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, under the headline “Sex offender guilty in murder of 4 women.” Now, I am not shocked to see that a man has murdered four women…well, actually, yes I am. But it’s not surprising to see he was a registered sex offender and a convicted kidnapper. Not all, perhaps, but it seems like a lot of sex offenders and kidnappers have a problem relating favorably to members of the opposite sex. What almost shocked me in this case, and lit the fuse to this rant, was the fact that the man just found guilty of multiple murders was not only running around loose at the time; he was wearing his fourth—fourth—GPS monitor.
Apparently Steven Dean Gordon, 47 years old, and 30-year-old Franc Cano acted together, but they are being tried separately for four 2013 killings in Santa Ana, California. Gordon has just been found guilty. Cano’s trial has not yet begun, but he has pleaded not guilty.
Now, while the crime of murder is terrible, it does happen—a case of men, and/or women, behaving badly. What got me worked up begins with the fact that Gordon and Cano were registered sex offenders even before they got together after meeting in prison. In 1992, at the age 23, Gordon was arrested and convicted for lewd and lascivious acts with a child below the age of 14 years. Unknown how much time he served, but he was eventually freed, presumably with his first (1st) GPS monitoring device, because in 2002 he was arrested and convicted of kidnapping. Cano was convicted for his initial crime, whatever it was, in 2008. After serving less than eight years for his kidnapping, Gordon was released with a GPS monitor, his second (2nd). At about that time, in or before 2010, Cano was also released with GPS monitoring. It was in 2010 that Cano cut off his device and took off to Alabama where he got together with Gordon, who presumably had already done the same thing, because they were both arrested there for removing their devices. Back in California in 2012, both apparently free again and with GPS monitoring (Gordon’s 3rd), they were both arrested for doing the same thing again, removing their devices. So, what punishment do you suppose they got? Maybe pick up trash along the freeway on weekends? Even if they spent a weekend, a month or a year in the county jail, they had already demonstrated more than once that they don’t consider the device as a deterrent to fun and games. Well, would you believe they were again released into the world with GPS monitoring devices (Gordon’s 4th)? It was after this release—while wearing their devices—that they kidnapped, raped and murdered four women. That’s how they got caught. Wow! Isn’t science great?
So, how long do you have to serve for the crime of removing your device? Is it a crime? How many chances should a person have to demonstrate that he is willing to play by the rules society has set before we say, “Okay, you blew it, no more releases.”? Why isn’t this offense covered by three-strikes? If it is, who failed to notice? Doesn’t anyone take those things seriously? Are they actually monitored? How closely? Is that all the monitoring system is good for, to keep a record of where and when the person has been in order to get a conviction after they do something else, like kill four women?
Is this the best we can come up with to keep tabs on depraved low-lifes like these two? Why do we use devices they can cut off whenever they get tired of being watched and want to start playing their sick games again? Why don’t we use something nailed or otherwise permanently affixed to their foreheads for all to see? Okay, forget the nails, but surely modern science can come up with something, maybe something like a permanently running camera with a microphone so we can actually monitor their actions from every angle at every moment, waking or sleeping. How about if we attach the new and improved monitoring system to them so it can’t be removed without also removing one or more significant limbs? Maybe we could even include something to inflict a paralyzing shock to them if they are seen to be about to do something naughty, something to hold them until we can swoop in to haul their ass back to the pokey. You know, since we don’t want to actually lock them away forever?
And, why don’t we? Oh, yeah, because they’re sick. At least some folks might say these men are sick. But some illnesses are nothing more than evil, incurable and untreatable. And, if they are sick, what about people with things like Ebola and other highly infectious and potentially deadly diseases? They’re sick, too, and they haven’t even kicked a puppy, probably very nice people, but they aren’t allowed to wander about the country with nothing more than a removable device to tell us where to find the bodies they leave in their wake—unless they cut it off. Why are sickos like Gordon and Cano, who still have the option to decide whether or not to allow their afflictions to affect other people, given such freedom? I’m a big believer in the rights our Constitution guarantees, but I don’t believe Adams, Jefferson, Madison or any of the other founders would agree that this situation is one of them.
No, I don’t believe the system is broken. But, in some cases, it is badly out of whack.