Governor, Legislative Leaders React to Brooke's Death
Gov. Jim Douglas - File Photo
Peter Shumlin & Gaye Symington - File Photo
Montpelier, Vermont - July 3, 2008
Gov. Jim Douglas, R-Vermont, said Thursday that whoever is responsible for Brooke's murder should face the most severe federal penalty-- the death penalty. The Governor also had strong words about Jacques' release 15 years ago, and called on the legislature to strengthen Vermont's sex offender laws.
His statement reads,
"As our hearts continue to ache for Brooke and those who loved her, I am confident that the person, or persons, responsible for Brooke's death will be brought to justice by Vermont's law enforcement community.
"If the U.S. Attorney prosecutes and convicts an individual, or individuals, for Brooke's murder, the most severe federal penalty available-the death penalty-should be sought.
"Nothing about this case is good. For the brutal crime he committed in 1992, the suspect should have been sentenced to the maximum. The judiciary should not have granted an early release from probation-against the strong opposition of the state-and eliminated the state's ability to monitor his activity. And while we have strengthened the sex offender treatment program in the last several years-including adding polygraph lie-detector testing-there is more that we must do to prevent crimes against children. I will continue to urge the Legislature to strengthen the laws that deter and punish sex offenders for committing these heinous crimes."
The legislative leadership also released a statement. It said nothing about changing any laws, but said they are committed to exposing and fighting violence. The statement from Speaker Gaye Symington and Senate Pro Tem Shumlin reads,
"Today we are mourning the tragic death of Brooke Bennett. We wish to extend our prayers to Brooke, her friends, family and community, and our gratitude to the law enforcement and judicial officers involved in the case.
The circumstances surrounding her death are appalling, and the perpetrator must be brought to justice.
Vermont is among the safest states in the country. However, we must never forget the prevalence of domestic and sexual abuse most often committed by family members against Vermont's most vulnerable: our children. News of Brooke's death and the surrounding circumstances are a shocking reminder that one victim is too many. Our commitment to exposing and fighting such violence remains steadfast.
We send our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Brooke's family and community."
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