The Arizona House of Representatives voted by a margin of 51-1 to pass a bill this week that institutes a mandatory life sentence for persons convicted of child sex offenses against victims 12 years of age or younger. The lone dissenting vote came from Democrat State Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, who implied that the legislation was racist against non-whites.
Arizona HB 2889 states, “A person who is at least eighteen years of age and who is convicted of a dangerous crime against children in the first degree involving sexual assault of a minor who is twelve years of age or younger or sexual conduct with a minor who is twelve years of age or younger shall be sentenced to life imprisonment.”
The legislation also states that “a person who is sentenced for a dangerous crime against children in the first degree pursuant to this section is not eligible for suspension of sentence, probation, pardon or release from confinement on any basis except as specifically authorized by section 31-233, subsection A or B until the sentence imposed by the court has been served or commuted.”
The bill would also apply to other forms of physical crimes against children such as kidnapping, human trafficking, and violence.
State Rep. Hannley, who called herself “the Bernie Sanders of Tucson with Hillary Clinton’s gender issues” during her campaign in Tuscon’s Legislative District 9, was the only member of the Arizona House to vote against the bill, seemingly decrying it as racist in her explanation.
“Justice is not blind or color blind in the United States and so mandatory sentencing is a part of the problem. If we had a fairer justice system, then the population in prison would look more like the population of the country and that’s not the case,” Hannley, 69, said of the bill.
Hannley further complained that the legislation could “disproportionately” impact “people of color” in a Facebook post.
The idea that prosecution of pedophiles is actually rooted in dated attitudes such as white supremacy has gained significant traction in Democrat circles recently. A lawmaker in California introduced legislation in 2020 that would prevent LGBT child sex offenders from being placed in the sex offender registry in some cases.