This is Bobbie Joe Long:
Bobby Joe Long raped scores of women in the Tampa Bay area and murdered as many as 11 and possibly more. He confessed to multiple murders and there are mountains of evidence, including a victim who escaped and left personal items in his bedroom to prove she had been there. Bobby Joe Long has been behind bars since 1984. 27 years later, we’re still paying for his legal games. How many millions of dollars has he cost us in all that time?
He is the real reason why the entire Florida Court system is in danger of shutting down for lack of money.
Sure, there are other reasons. There’s these guys . . .
Appellate Judges Paul Hawkes and Brad Thomas, who went on a wild spending spree with 48 million taxpayer dollars to build what is being dubbed the Taj Mahal of courthouses, complete with mahagony-lined private suites for . . . Paul Hawkes and Brad Thomas. Yes, they are wearing cunning hardhats with their names engraved on them.
There’s also cash flow problems due to another real estate boondoggle, the foreclosure crisis. The State Bar says they will run out of operating funds very, very, very soon. And what happens then?
“The courts are running out of money, and if we run out of money, we cannot keep our doors open,” said 10th Circuit Judge John Laurent, chair of the Trial Courts Budget Commission. “It’s important we keep the doors open. One reason is access to justice, and one is public safety. I don’t think we could go for several months without a court system. No, that’s not an experiment we want to participate in.”
Access to justice and public safety: good things.
But the real problem with funding our justice system is the limitless resources and vast latitude given to any criminal who ever gets convicted of anything. If they get convicted, that is. According to a group of researchers who put together a list of every time Bobbie Joe Long skinned his knee or bumped his nose, his first rape charge came in 1971, when he was only 18 (a juvenile record might be sealed). Before that he shot his dog to death through her vagina, but, whatever. The girl wasn’t believed. Nor apparently was his wife, a few years later. Nor was the next rape victim who dared to put herself through reporting him in 1981, only to see him receive probation for lesser charges, then demand a retrial, receive one from some compassionate judge, and walk free, acquitted that time. Then there was the twelve-year old girl he tried to abuse while in police custody (he got two days for that crime). There was the hospital job where he was fired for sexual abuse of the patients, but nothing else was done. He was hired by several other hospitals after that. Then in 1984, a gunpoint abduction charge that was reduced, astonishingly, to a fine to pay for the damage to the woman’s vehicle (which she had crashed in order to escape him).
When you read through a record like this, it’s hard to see the criminal justice system as anything other than a sort of playground for inhuman psychopaths, with defense attorneys and judges standing on the sidelines virtually encouraging the Bobbie Joe Longs of the world to go out and kill again. I find it very hard to believe that, with the exception of the police, any of the public servants who came into contact with Long in all those years felt the least bit motivated to get him off the streets. He did everything short of walking into a police station and confessing to raping and murdering women, and then he finally even did that, and then the location of the game changed slightly, but the courts kept playing with him and encouraging him, and they continue to do so today.
Meanwhile, what percentage of his victims received so much as one day in court to address the vicious rape and attempted murder they barely survived, or the murder of someone they loved? How many serious violent crimes, even murders, attributed to Long were carelessly shelved without a second thought?
The reality of our criminal justice system is this: we could spend ten times as much as we do today and 75% of crime victims still wouldn’t see their cases addressed by the system. Liberals care only about criminals, and, increasingly, conservatives care only about cutting costs. And liberals control the judiciary, and conservatives control the purse strings, especially in Florida. The math isn’t hard to do.
In 1970, when Bobbie Joe Long was just beginning his violent career, Milton Eisenhower, one of the most respected criminologists in the United States, complained that of the 10 million serious crimes committed annually in the United States, only one-and-a-half percent resulted in even temporary incarceration of anyone. Those numbers are probably better today. But the people we trust to keep us safe have grown worse: they’re no Milton S. Eisenhower, who actually believed the justice system should protect the innocent and punish the guilty. Bobbie Joe Long will have many more taxpayer-subsidized days in court, probably in the Taj Mahal, which is essentially a playground for him and his peers.