Join Date: 04/06/2010
Copied below is a letter to the editor submitted to the Delaware State News. You can post your opinions by clicking on "Reply."
‘Home invasion’ needs to be treated as the serious crime it is
Home invasions have been on the rise inDelaware. Since June, dozens of such crimes have been committed.
Our district was plagued by a rash of home invasions late last year. In one incident, during the early-morning hours of Nov. 7, armed men kicked in the door of a home belonging to a 78-year-old woman living near Hartly. Putting a gun to her head, the attackers forced the terrified victim to give them her cash.
Fortunately, police made an arrest in that case last month. Those alleged assailants are also believed to be responsible for at least two other similar crimes.
It is easy to see why home invasions are attractive to criminals looking for an easy score. Targeted homes are usually isolated residences in rural areas, reducing the chance perpetrators will be detected and increasing the time needed for any police response. Roused from their sleep and terrorized, often with a spouse held hostage, homeowners tend to be cooperative in giving the perpetrators whatever they ask. In short, it’s a low-risk crime with potentially a good payoff.
I, and many of my colleagues in the General Assembly, believe we need to fundamentally change that calculation by establishing a powerful new deterrent and making the punishment fitting to the severe nature of the crime.
Senate Bill 161 – sponsored by State Sens. Dave Lawson (R-Marydel) and George Bunting Jr. (D-Bethany Beach), myself and others – is a bipartisan measure that would make the crime of home invasion a Class A felony, carrying a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. A person convicted of the crime for a second time would receive a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
To be found guilty of “home invasion,” a person would have to knowingly enter an occupied dwelling, armed with a deadly weapon, and also commit robbery, assault, rape, manslaughter or murder.
In my opinion, home invasions are among the most heinous of crimes, predicated on confrontation and the threat of extreme violence. In many ways, the crime is akin to armed robbery – the penalty for which also merits future re-examination. But elevating the seriousness of home invasion is the effect it has on its victims in the aftermath.
One of the core principles on which our lives are based is that when we are in our homes we are sheltered, largely secure from the turmoil of the outside world. The adage that “a man’s home is his castle” is axiomatic. When criminals invade a home, they are not just stealing property; they are callously ripping away their victims’ fundamental sense of security. Material goods can be replaced and doors can be repaired, but for victims of this crime, recovering the sense of sanctuary that their homes once provided is all but impossible. In this sense, there are few offenses that are as intrusive and destructive.
Home invasions need to be treated and prosecuted as the appalling crimes they are. We need to set a penalty that not only serves to restrain these malevolent acts, but which will also remove from our communities those individuals who would dare to commit them.
The law-abiding citizens of our community deserve nothing less.
State Rep. Lincoln Willis
Republican representing District 29