Judge Edward Cashman
Responding to outrage against a judge who gave a child rapist only 60 days in prison, the state of Vermont issued an order to pave the way for a lengthy sentence.
As WorldNetDaily reported last week, Vermont District Court Judge Edward Cashman said he issued the light sentence to Mark Hulett, 34, because he no longer believes in punishment and is more concerned now about rehabilitation. Prosecutors thought Hulett deserved eight to 20 years in prison.
Cashman explained he wanted to make sure Hulett gets sex-offender treatment. Under Department of Corrections classification, however, Hulett was considered a low-risk for re-offense, which meant he didn’t qualify for in-prison treatment. Cashman decided then to issue a 60-day sentence and ordered Hulett to complete the treatment when he got out or face a possible life sentence.
Yesterday, however, Human Services Secretary Michael Smith announced his order to reclassify Hulett, making him eligible for in-prison treatment.
“The classification system cannot be used as an excuse not to mete out punishment,” Smith said. “As a state official and as a father I have got to look out for the well-being of Vermonters.”
Prosecutors are expected to return to court Friday to ask Cashman for a new sentence.
Meanwhile, Vermont state House Republicans introduced a non-binding resolution yesterday asking Cashman to resign.
“We can’t tell him what to do, but it would be a pretty powerful statement,” Republican Rep. Kurt Wright told the Burlington Free Press.
The paper said Wright’s resolution was one of several responses consider by legislators to the barrage of complaints from constituents and people across the country.
Gov. James Douglas has condemned the decision, saying it appalled him.
The state’s House Judiciary Committee took testimony this week on Hulett’s sentence and planned also to hear from Corrections Department officials. In addition, the panel is considering legislation to require tougher sentences, the Free Press said.
Discussion of impeachment proceedings, however, has died down, according to Republican state Sen. Wendy Wilton, who plans to introduce a bill based on “Jessica’s law,” a nationwide initiative for states that includes barring registered sex offenders from living near schools and parks and requiring them to wear satellite tracking devices.
The cornerstone of the measure, Wilton said, is a 25-year minimum mandatory sentence for aggravated sexual assault.
In an interview Monday on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” Wilton was asked about the bill’s chances for success.
“Now that this has happened, I think they’re pretty darn good,” she said, referring to the Cashman controversy. “I was a little concerned when I was here in November that we were going to face an uphill battle, but I think after this, people realize the need for it.”
Fox host Bill O’Reilly is promoting an e-mail campaign to urge the governor and lawmakers to impeach Cashman. He stated last night the governor’s office says it has received more correspondence on the 60-day sentence than any other issue in the history of Vermont.
Cashman said in a statement “the negative comments sting.”
“I am aware that the intensity of some public criticism may shorten my judicial career,” he said. “To change my decision now, however, simply because of some negative sentiment, would be wrong.
“I owe it to the judiciary and to my own conscience to maintain a stand that I believe is the best possible option in a very difficult situation,” he said.
Speaking at the sentencing last week to a packed Burlington courtroom made up mostly of people related to the victim, Cashman said: “The one message I want to get through is that anger doesn’t solve anything. It just corrodes your soul.”
The judge said that when he began 25 years ago, he handed down tough sentences but now believes “it accomplishes nothing of value.”
“It doesn’t make anything better; it costs us a lot of money; we create a lot of expectation, and we feed on anger,” Cashman explained to the people in the court.
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