updated 3/23/2005 11:25:11 AM ET 2005-03-23T16:25:11

Guest: John Lott, John Mitchell, Charlie Crist, Rick Warren, Anne Graham Lotz, Peter Beinart, Jay Sekulow, Bo Dietl, Marc Klaas, Randall Terry

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, as Terri Schiavo slowly starves to death, her parents try desperately to find a judge or a politician who can save their daughter’s life. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed. 

A heart-wrenching day in the life and death on the fight over Terri Schiavo.  Police block the dying woman’s door as her husband continues his fight to have her die.  Time is running out, and is there anybody out there who will save her? 

And shocking new information about the man charged with kidnapping, raping and murdering nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford.  The convicted sex offender was arrested 25 times and then allowed to work at two schools, including Jessica’s elementary school.  How could the government allow this repeat sex offender to prey on our children?  

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, it’s been four days and about nine hours since doctors unhooked Terri Schiavo from the feeding tube in the early morning this hour.  A U.S. Circuit Court judge refused to order the tube reinserted.  Now, the family filed an appeal with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.  And now they say that their daughter is fading fast. 

Kerry Sanders is standing by at the hospice where Terri is tonight. 

Kerry, what’s the very latest? 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Joe, they are waiting now for a decision from the appeals court in Atlanta.  As you know, the federal judge in Tampa decided that there’s no reason to have the feeding tube reinserted.  As the appeals court is now considering his decision, there appears to be action once again back in the state level, this time in the state Senate in Florida, where they are working on a bill that would require everybody in the state to say they did not want, have to affirmatively say they do not want a feeding tube inserted, something akin to a living will. 

If you don’t have one, the Senate bill that is working its way through right now would say that you have to have it inserted.  Then it would go to the House.  And, of course, we know Jeb Bush, who has been behind trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive on the tube, would, indeed, sign it into law.  However, the Senate bill is short votes.

In fact, Terri Schiavo’s mother, Mary Schindler, came out a short time ago and had this to say. 

MARY SCHINDLER, MOTHER OF TERRI SCHIAVO:  I understand that we only need one vote in the state Senate to save my daughter.  Please, Senators, for the love of God, I’m begging you, don’t let my daughter die of thirst. 

SANDERS:  George Felos, who is the attorney representing Michael Schiavo, Terri Schiavo’s husband, is calling nine Republican senators who are not supporting this bill, he is calling them the Republican nine.  And he calls them courageous, saying that there is no need for this bill.  There’s no need for this law, it only muddies the waters and that things should remain as is.  He, along with everybody, is now waiting for a decision from the appeals court in Atlanta—Joe. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks a lot, Kerry. 

Now, it’s been a trying few days for Terri Schiavo’s family, the Schindlers. 

Randall Terry represents them.

Randall, what is the very latest tonight?  What is this family thinking, as they certainly know that, unless a politician or unless a court steps forward, their daughter is going to die of thirst?

RANDALL TERRY, SPOKESMAN FOR PARENTS OF TERRI SCHIAVO:  They are shook to the core, as you can imagine. 

You saw it, you heard it in Mary’s voice.  And they are begging.  And I just want to echo that beg to the lawmakers here in Tallahassee, please save this lady from starvation and from dehydration.  She is literally dying of thirst.  And it is my conviction that the road to save Terri runs through Tallahassee. 

And we are within for sure two and maybe just one vote of legislation, and if that legislation is to pass tomorrow, then Terri’s life will be saved.  We were at this place once before.  The legislature and Governor Bush intervened.  And, unfortunately, that bill was a lousy bill.  And everyone knew it, and the reason that bill was the one that was passed was because of then President Jim King.

Jim King is a scoundrel.  In fact, this is holy week, and I guess he is the playing the role of Judas Iscariot.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  You know...

TERRY:  No.  Jim King is the one who screwed it up the first time. 

And the Republican nine are following the lead of Jim King. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Well, listen, let’s move on and talk about the family.  Again, you represent the family.  Are their hopes fading tonight?  Do they really believe any court is going to step forward and help them out? 

TERRY:  The family has always held onto hope and has always known that there was going to be a struggle.  And as long as there is breath, there is hope.

And so they are hoping that the state Senate here in Florida will just save their daughter.  They are hoping the 11th Circuit will do the bidding of Congress. 

I mean, Joe, one of the things that Jay wouldn’t say, because he is an officer of the court, but I will say, is that this record was screwed up from the beginning.  You are right that the trial court was the finder of fact, but Judge Greer dismissed tons of evidence that would have saved Terri.  He is almost legally blind, so he never could even watch the videos.  This case was messed up at the trial court level. 

It’s been messed up on appeal.  And we can only hope that the 11th Circuit, somebody there has a heart, for the love of God and for the love of humanity, or else the state senators here in Tallahassee. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Randall.

I will tell you what.  The only thing I know about Judge Greer is any judge that just willfully ignores a subpoena from the United States Congress, a state court judge, that is a judge that is too arrogant to be on the bench. 

Thanks for being with us, Randall. 

SCARBOROUGH:  With me now is Jay Sekulow.  He is the chief counsel for the American Center For Law and Justice.  We also have Peter Beinart, editor of “The New Republic.”

Now, before we start, we have to say that we invited Michael Schiavo and his representatives on the show, but they did not return our calls today.  Randall Terry was here, of course, to bring us up to date with the family. 

Jay Sekulow, I have got to ask you, though, are you surprised that the courts have rejected this family’s request to save their daughter’s life? 

JAY SEKULOW, CHIEF COUNSEL, AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE:  I am really disappointed. 

I mean, it’s hard for me to imagine that a U.S. District Court judge

looked at an act of Congress, whether you thought the act was right or not

·         it was passed and signed into law.  And you know this, Joe.  It called for what is called de novo review.  That is a full review.  And this judge had an hour and 35 or an hour and 45 minute hearing and made his decision. 

I think that flies in the face of the statute.  I think it’s wrong, and I am hopeful that something will happen either at the 11th Circuit or ultimately the Supreme Court of the United States.  But it’s very disappointing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But that is probably not going to happen, though, is it, Jay?

SEKULOW:  Well, I know the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals—and you know this from your court experience.  It is strictly dependent upon who is on your panel.  If we get the right panel for our side, we carry the day.  If we don’t, you can then ask for en banc review, for the entire 11th Circuit to hear it.  I am sure that will happen, and then up to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Peter Beinart, it was almost a circus scene outside of Terri Schiavo’s hospice room.  A woman was arrested for trying to put ice in this dying woman’s mouth.  Isn’t that awfully extreme? 

PETER BEINART, EDITOR, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Look, this whole thing is tragic and grotesque.  It turns one’s stomach. 

The central question I think we have to keep going back to is, what did Terri Schiavo want?  A lot of people on one side of this argument are suggesting that this is being done against her will.  That is the central question, what her will was.  The judges have all decided that they think, based on the best evidence, that she would not have wanted—she would have wanted to be allowed to die. 

That’s the key question.  And then the question becomes, who is empowered to make that decision?  It’s the courts.  The courts have all ruled one way.  And I think it is wrong for politicians and commentators, who know much less about this than the state courts in Florida, to keep on going and suggesting that they know...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Jay Sekulow, you and I both know the finder of fact has to be the trial court judge. 

SEKULOW:  Sure. 

SCARBOROUGH:  In case, it was the judge in Tampa, the federal judge. 

So, listen, that’s how we determine it, right?

(CROSSTALK)

SEKULOW:  Yes, but, Joe, but the federal statute that was passed by your former colleagues and signed by the president calls for a plenary review by the U.S. District Court judge.  It granted jurisdiction and plenary review. 

And in an hour-and-a-half hearing or two-hour hearing, you can’t have plenary review of a case like this.  He should have granted the request to have the feeding tube put in place, and then had a regular discovery and trial on this.  We do that for prisoners that are sentenced to death row.  That’s the least we could do for Terri Schiavo. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Peter Beinart, that sounds very reasonable to me.  If we are so concerned about what is happening on death row, and we are going to take every single precaution to keep murderers alive on death row, shouldn’t we do the same thing for an innocent dying woman? 

BEINART:  Look, I am not a lawyer, but I heard Laurence Tribe say in a conversation with Mr. Sekulow yesterday that in fact it is really not true that all of those death row inmates, even under the Warren court, got de novo review. 

But the central question here is, the federal—the district court judge has now made the same decision that two other district court judges have made and the Supreme Court has made and the state trial court judge has made.  What people here are doing, they don’t like the answers they are getting, so they keep trying to change the venue.  That seems to me wrong.  It seems to me not fair play. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Peter, the thing is—I obviously—I fall down on the side of Terri’s parents.  But, as an attorney, I think you are exactly right.  We have a court system where you have got the finder of fact.  That finder of fact is either a jury or, in this case, a judge.

And it seems every single judge continues coming to the same conclusion. 

Well, Peter Beinart, thanks for being with us.

BEINART:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jay Sekulow, we greatly appreciate you being here also. 

And when we come return, more on the fate of Terri Schiavo with evangelist Anne Graham Lotz.  And you may be surprised at what Anne is going to say about it. 

And, as part of our special weeklong look at faith in America, the message behind “The Purpose Driven Life.”  I’m going to be talking with the author of the best-selling blockbuster book that helped hostage Ashley Smith put an end to a murderous rampage. 

And later on, much more on the shocking events that unfolded in another Florida case.  This time, you’ve got a guy that is arrested 25 times.  He’s a child molester.  And he is allowed to case out his next victim working for two different elementary schools. 

That’s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, our weeklong look at faith in America with Reverend Billy Graham’s daughter, evangelist Anne Graham Lotz, plus Rick Warren, the author of a book that helped end a murder rampage in Atlanta. 

That’s when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  As the case of Terri Schiavo moves from court to court, the outcry from some religious groups across America continues to grow. 

With me now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY for a special faith week interview is the founder and president of Angel Ministries, Anne Graham Lotz. 

(MUSIC)

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Anne, I liked the angelic choir going there when we introduced you.  That was a nice little segue.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Listen, we’re going to talk about the Schiavo case in a

·         in a second.

But let’s talk.  NBC is doing a special this week on faith in America, which I think is remarkable in and of itself.  I want you to tell us, what do you think the state of faith in America in 2005 is? 

(LAUGHTER)

ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ, ANGEL MINISTRIES:  That’s a big question, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It’s a very big question. 

LOTZ:  And I would say, if I can define faith, I would define it as faith in a living God, the God of creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the father of Jesus Christ.

And it’s not just believing and sort of agreeing that he exists, but it’s faith as a commitment that not only you believe it, but you act on what you say you believe.  So, it’s followed by commitment.  And that commitment has to be based on something more than your feelings, more than your hopes, more than wishes.  So, for myself, my faith is grounded and rooted in the word of God. 

It’s grounded in the Bible.  Otherwise, there are many things I wouldn’t know what to believe or how to believe, but I just believe the Bible is true.  It’s God’s word.  So, my faith is rooted in that.  So, it’s not the amount of your faith or that you have faith or don’t.  It’s the object of your faith that makes it valid or not. 

And so, coming back to the state of faith in America, within the church—I am not going to speak for Americans generally, but, generally speaking for the church, people who go to church, to be very honest, Joe, I think our faith is about a mile wide and an inch deep, because most churchgoers don’t know their Bibles.  And they have a hard time finding their way around it.  They don’t know what they believe or why they believe it.

So, when it comes to something like Terri Schiavo, it’s hard for them to apply their faith to that, because they don’t know what the Bible says.  Their faith just comes and goes with their feelings or with the tide of the moment or public opinion.  So, my concern of course, is for the church.  And I live my life and my ministry to just develop people’s faith in God’s word, that they might know what he says and that they might know what they believe, that it might be grounded in something more than just a hope or a wish or, you know, a feeling. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Anne, I remember hearing you speak one time in Pensacola, Florida, and everybody was with you.  You had all these young professionals in there.  They were with you all the way.  And then you started talking about, for you and for them, you believe that Jesus Christ was the only way. 

LOTZ:  That’s right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you could just see them start shifting uncomfortably in their seats.  And afterwards, a lot of them were sitting around saying, you know what, she had me until she said that’s the only way. 

Is that what you are talking about, a lot of sort of New Age universalism out there, that—sort of this spiritual mishmash? 

LOTZ:  I think that’s it, but I think it can be even people who go to church that wouldn’t go along with the spiritualism or the mishmash.  And they say they are Christians and they would say they believe Jesus is the only way.

But then, when they come to apply it to their friend next door or their co-worker or their neighbor or their family member who has not placed their faith in Christ, then they back off and say, well, you know, God is a loving God.  And the reason I say that so clearly, Joe, that Jesus is the only way is because that’s what Jesus said.  It’s not my idea.  I didn’t make up the rules. 

And Jesus said that he was the only way to God.  And so, I just accept what he says as the truth because I believe he is the son of God.  I believe what he spoke was the truth. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, you know, the thing is, Anne, you just can’t—nobody can have it both ways, and I have heard people say this time and time again. 

LOTZ:  That’s right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You can’t say Jesus was a great guy, but he’s not the savior. 

LOTZ:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Either he’s the savior or he’s the biggest liar in the history of mankind. 

Let’s move on to Schiavo, though.  You brought up Schiavo.  My mother, very conservative, evangelical, I guess you would call her evangelical, pro-life, but she doesn’t go along with a lot of evangelicals who are saying, keep Terri Schiavo alive.  She is saying, you got to trust the husband.  What is your take on this Schiavo case? 

LOTZ:  You know, it’s so hard because, as you know, I just got     back in the country last night, so I have been out of the country for eight days and haven’t been tracking this. 

So, today, I have been cramming, you know, trying to read up on what’s been happening.  And I was really alarmed when I read Senator Frist’s take on this, just from a medical point of view, because I had assumed that Terri Schiavo was brain-dead.  But she is not.  And from what Senator Frist said, she has never had a thorough, proper medical evaluation.  She has never had an MRI.

So I just cannot—I am appalled to think we are even at this point, to tell you the truth, because she is an innocent human being, and I will tell you that she is precious in God’s sight.  He loves her.  He created her in his image, which means that she is created to have a personal relationship with God, and to take her life, an innocent human being, to take her life because she is mentally retarded basically, or they don’t know what her mental capacity is, is appalling to me.

And my concern—and I think maybe this is why the lawmakers have stepped in—is that this could be precedent-setting, and some judge or somebody else could determine when a person’s life is no longer worth living.  And I think that is astounding, that America has come to that point, that we would say somebody who is incapacitated mentally is no longer fit to live, and so we are not going to feed her, and allow her to die.  I can hardly believe this is America that is doing this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much, Anne.  I am sure that you probably persuaded my mother with that. 

Thanks so much for being with us, as always.  Anne Graham Lotz, we greatly appreciate it. 

LOTZ:  God bless you, Joe.  Thanks. 

SCARBOROUGH:  God bless you, too, Anne. 

Now, 10 days ago, we first introduced you to Ashley Smith.  She was of course the brave widow and single mother who talked Atlanta courthouse killer Brian Nichols into giving up.  The story really just grabbed America.  And what really grabbed America was how she did it. 

Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHLEY SMITH, FORMER HOSTAGE:  We went to my room, then I asked him if I could read.  He said, What do you want to read?  I said, Well, I have a book in my room, so I went and got it.  I got my Bible, and I got a book called “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, the rest of course is history.

And we have a special guest tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  He is, of course, Rick Warren, the author of the book “The Purpose Driven Life.”  The book has sold more than 22 million copies worldwide and is the best-selling hardcover in our country’s history.  Rick is also of course the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. 

Rick, you know, what is so funny about this story, about your book?  You sell over 20 million copies.  It’s just a runaway—it’s not even a best-seller.  It’s a blockbuster.  And I don’t think you get reviewed by “The New York Times,” “The L.A. Times,” “TIME,” “Newsweek.”  You know, all of these media outlets.  They don’t review you for about a year or so, and half of America doesn’t know about your book until the story of Ashley Smith. 

What is your take when you heard what was going on in Atlanta? 

RICK WARREN, AUTHOR, “THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE”:  Yes. 

Well, you know, Joe, there are two stories going on in America.  There is the story of increasing violence.  And there’s the story of people looking for meaning and purpose in life.  And then there’s the story of people who are finding meaning and purpose in life.  And that was a clear example.  I was actually in Africa when Ashley read “The Purpose Driven Life” to Brian.  But I wasn’t surprised, because I have heard this story over and over and over, that, when people realize there’s a meaning, there’s a purpose to their life, they are not an accident, it has a changing power to it. 

And we saw it happen in her taking the courage to simply share with him, you are not an accident.  You were made by God and for God.  And until you understand that, life isn’t going to make sense.  It’s everything Anne just talked about. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  You know, Rick, the great thing about your book is

·         I mean, all great books seem to have a great opening line, whether it’s the best of times or it’s the worst of times. 

Your book, you open it up, and in 21st century America, it really kicks you in the face, and your first line is, “It’s not about you.”  That is so counterintuitive to the me generation of the ‘70s and what is going on today. 

WARREN:  Well, it is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Is that why your book—let’s face it.  There are 1,000 books out there that people can read on faith.  Do you think that’s what may make your book so successful? 

WARREN:  Well, there’s no doubt, for the last 50 years, we have been in a very narcissistic culture, where everything in our society has said, it’s all about you. 

Every advertisement says, we do it all for you.  Have it your way.  You have got to think about you.  And when a book comes along that says the exact opposite, it is kind of like a little slap in the face.  It’s refreshing.  It says, it’s not about you. 

And I think people instinctively know there’s got to be more to life than just getting out of bed and living for myself.  I mean, if I am the biggest goal of my life, why get out of bed?  Why not just, you know, check in and say, I wish I had been there, but I didn’t?

You see, we need a purpose greater than ourselves that draws us out of ourselves and causes us to be what God made us to be in the first place.  And I think, instinctively, people know there’s got to be more to life than just living for me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let’s listen to more of what Ashley Smith said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:                  I turned it to the chapter that I was on that day.  It was chapter 33.  And I started to read the first paragraph of it.  After I read it, he said stop, will you read it again?

I said, yeah.  I’ll read it again.

So I read it again to him.

It mentioned something about what you thought you’re purpose in life was.  What were you—what talents were you give?  What gifts were you given to use?

And I asked him what he thought.  And he said, I think it was to talk to people and tell them about you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Rick, we have heard about chapter 33 in your book time and time again over the past week or so.  Does it surprise you that that chapter was able to end—anything in that chapter was able to end a hostage crisis that really gripped Atlanta and America. 

WARREN:  Well, what people need more than anything else emotionally is, they need a reason for hope. 

And Brian Nichols was acting in a hopeless way, and so he was doing hopeless things and he was killing people.  I wish the message had gotten to him sooner, and maybe we could have spared those lives.  But when Ashley started to talk to him about, you know, success is not the reason for life, and status isn’t the reason for life, and sex isn’t the reason for life, and salary isn’t the reason for life, and we were put here to serve, and we serve God by serving others, and that’s where self-esteem comes from. 

And, actually, Ashley practiced that message in chapter 33 when she fixed Brian breakfast, and then he responded serving her by putting up some curtains.  And so, they were both practicing it.  But it’s really a message that says, as you give your life away, that is where you find value and significance and meaning.  And it struck a chord in his life.  I have often wondered, since I heard this story, had anybody been kind to Brian Nichols, say, in the previous six months? 

If anybody had been kind to him and showed him and had served him, I wonder if he wouldn’t have felt so hopeless that he started killing people. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, and I always said, if somebody had read your book to him, or even a chapter of your book to him 12 hours earlier, this may not have happened. 

WARREN:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Rick, stick around. 

WARREN:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I got another question for you when we come back.

And also coming up, unfortunately, some more shocking information about the man who was charged with sexually assaulting and murdering little Jessica Lunsford.  He was a convicted sex offender.  And this John Couey was allowed to work at Jessica’s elementary school, where he had contacts with her and other students.  So the question is, how could a repeat sex offender be allowed to prey on our children in their own schools? 

And the second worst shooting in American history, yesterday’s massacre in Minnesota, all the signs were there, a troubled child who described himself as a Nazi.  He wore a black trench coat and he talked about death all the time.  So, why didn’t anybody pick up those warning signs? 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, we have more with Rick Warren, plus, more on that horrible Florida tragedy about how a sex offender was allowed to work in Jessica Lunsford’s school.  It may have cost her, her life—that and a lot more ahead.

But, first, here’s the news your family needs to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Let’s go back to Rick Warren now.

Rick, you know, a lot of people, when this story broke, just couldn’t believe that a guy that had murdered four people in a 24-hour span could turn his life over to Jesus Christ and be saved.  Explain to us how that happens.  I mean, can this guy really be saved? 

WARREN:  Joe, what Ashley showed Brian Nichols is grace.  And she showed it to him because she had experienced it herself. 

As we all know by now, Ashley had some tough times in her own life, had some mistakes, went through the difficulty of holding her own husband as he was dying from a stab wound.  And, as result of being shown grace herself, she was able to show it to somebody else.  And there’s nothing more powerful than the grace of God. 

I think there’s a parallel or a connection between Ashley’s story and the Terri Schiavo story and even what is going to happen this week as Christians around the world celebrate Easter.  It’s all about hope that God can bring good out of bad, that it doesn’t matter what direction or where you have been, but what matters is the direction of your feet and the way they are headed right now, and that, no matter where you have been, your past is past and there is a chance to get a fresh start, and there is a purpose for your life.  And that is life-changing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Rick, give advice to Terri Schiavo’s family tonight.  They are outside.  They’re praying for a miracle.  Their daughter is inside starving to death.  There’s no hope for this family. 

I don’t think the courts are going to help them.  I don’t think politicians are going to help them.  So, what message do you deliver to them tonight? 

WARREN:  Well, we are praying for them.  And many in the nation are praying for the parents and for Terri, because we are really starving this woman to death.  This is not about a right-to-death issue.  The woman is not dying.  At least she wasn’t until they started starving her. 

She is not brain-dead.  She is in a vegetative state, which doctors

will tell you will often go 15 or 20 years.  The likelihood of her coming

out of it is rare, but it does happen.  And if I were in a vegetative state

·         and that means I still had brain function—I would hope that those who loved me would keep me going with the possibility that I could come alive.  She is not on life support.  What we are doing is, we are starving this woman to death.  And I think that’s a shame, as Anne Graham mentioned earlier. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you what, Rick.  I think it’s absolutely brutal, what is happening. 

Listen, I appreciate you being with us.  Thanks so much for everything you do.

WARREN:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All the work you’ve done.  And I am glad now that America knows, other than the 22 million people that have bought the book and the 80 million people that have studied from the book in churches and Bible studies, I am glad the rest of America knows about you and your book now.  Thanks. 

WARREN:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now on to a tragic story.  Of course, we are talking about 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, who was abducted from her home by a known sex offender, who has since confessed. 

She was sexually assaulted.  She was killed just 150 yards from her front door.  And it was a startling reminder to all of us, then and now, how the laws of this land simply don’t do enough to protect our children.  Convicted sex offender John Couey was arraigned today, and there’s shocking new information about him.  He was arrested 25 times and then allowed to work at two schools, including, get this, Jessica’s elementary school, where he had contact with her and the other students. 

Why was somebody who was known to be a threat to our children, allowed to prey on them?  Here to talk about it is Marc Klaas.  He, of course, is the father of Polly Klaas, who was abducted from her home and murdered in 1993 at the age of 12.  Also with us, Charlie Crist.  He’s the attorney general for the state of Florida.  And we also have former New York City Homicide Detective Bo Dietl.

Bo, let’s start with you, since you have the brightest tie on tonight. 

This is a tragedy, an absolute tragedy.  And, as a father of three, I am outraged that you got a guy, he’s arrested 25 times.  He is a known sex offender, and he is working at schools. 

BO DIETL, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  You know, the two schools that he’s working, that’s outrageous, first of all.  And they should enact a law in Florida. 

You know, we have all these laws that come to be, and this guy is 150 yards away.  And these detectives don’t know that they have a sexual what they call him, offender.  He’s not a predator.  They have two sections there in the Florida law there.  They had sexual offender and sexual predator. 

The sexual offender, you have to go online to find them.  The predator, you will know about if he is in your neighborhood or not.  I think these laws should be changed.  I think people should get up on them.  It just seems like it’s a pattern over and over.  And they come out of jail, these sexual predators, offenders, whatever you want to call them.  They come out of jail. 

He is in his trailer, 150 feet away from that little girl.  He kidnaps the little girl into his house.  And you mean to say they can’t track this guy down faster than they did?  I mean, it’s horrible.

SCARBOROUGH:  Charlie Crist, I don’t understand, Charlie Crist, to tell you the truth, how these guys continue to prey on little kids, why we don’t put ankle bracelets around them for life, or around their ankles or their necks or whatever. 

What can be done?  You know, in the Florida Senate, you were called Chain Gang Charlie, because you were tough on criminals. 

CHARLIE CRIST, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Yes, sir. 

SCARBOROUGH:  As attorney general of the state of Florida, what can you do to protect children, not only in Florida, but what example can you give to other attorney generals, so we can send our kids to schools and feel like they are not going to be preyed upon? 

CRIST:  Joe, I think there’s a lot we can do. 

And the good news, we have legislation before the Florida legislature right now that would address this issue directly.  You know, we have had a couple of bad cases in Florida, the one dealing with Carlie Brucia just last year in Sarasota, where a guy who was out on probation violated his probation, went before a judge, and was allowed to stay out, then goes and abducts and murders Carlie Brucia down in Sarasota, Florida.

Then in August, in Volusia County, near Daytona Beach, same kind of fact pattern.  You have somebody who was on probation.  They had already been in jail, came out.  They were placed on probation, violate the privilege of probation, and then go and bludgeon to death six innocent Floridians.  And now we have this case. 

It’s got to stop.  The way to do so is to say, you have got to go before a judge.  If you violate that privilege of probation, then you got to go back to jail, because we need to protect Florida’s children.  We need to protect the sons and daughters of our families in this state.  And we are hopeful and optimistically hopeful that the Florida House and the Florida Senate will pass this measure and send it on to the governor, so that we can make sure these people are in jail, you know, so that they can’t continue to do these kind of things.  They can’t go to the—a young girl’s school.  They can’t be out in society.  They ought to be locked up. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  That’s just outrageous.  I will tell you, it’s just absolutely outrageous that this guy, arrested 25 times, a known sex offender, is allowed to work at schools. 

Marc, you lost a daughter because of lax laws.  You lost a daughter because law enforcement is not able to track down these people that are, again, repeat sexual offenders.  What should be done so Americans              can know that their children will be safe at school, their children will be safe in their neighborhoods, their children will be safe at home from sexual predators? 

MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION:  Well, first of all, the whole answer does not lie in legislation, but I believe that, when you were in Congress, Joe, you voted on a federal law that required criminal background checks on individuals that work in schools or that have unsupervised access to children. 

Now, as far as characters like this go, the penalties for noncompliance of sex offender registries have to be extremely harsh, perhaps even life without the possibility of parole, to force these guys to be where they are supposed to be and do what they are supposed to be doing.  Secondly, you have to have a verification policy that has some basis in reality.  Law enforcement has to be able to go to where these guys are and verify who they are and where they are.  Another way to approach this...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But there are—the thing is, though, Marc, there aren’t enough law enforcement officers out there. 

KLAAS:  No, that’s right.  No.

SCARBOROUGH:  To guess where they are. 

KLAAS:  That’s right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, why don’t we put an ankle bracelet on them for life, so we can track them? 

KLAAS:  You see, now, that was my next point. 

I mean, if a positive American icon like Martha Stewart is forced into the humiliation of wearing an ankle bracelet for five months, why in the world are a half-million registered sex offenders allowed to walk around for free? 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, that’s a great point. 

And we are going to take that up with our panel when we come back, going to start with Bo Dietl, because you are exactly right.  If Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart, has to wear one of these things, why don’t repeat sex offenders have to do it?  I am telling you, friends, there are not enough police officers out there to track all these creeps down and keep your children safe. 

We’ll be right back in a second with more in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Back with me now, we have Marc Klaas.  He’s the father of Polly Klaas, also Charlie Crist, Florida attorney general.  And we have former New York City Homicide Detective Bo Dietl.

Bo, let’s go back to you.  You wanted—I had cut you off beforehand. 

Go ahead.

DIETL:  You know, Joe, we keep getting this in the state of Florida. 

This is happening over and over again. 

We can start by one thing.  We can enact laws where you have to do background checks on people working in these schools.  If they are sexual predators or offenders, I don’t care about that.  And, also, we should be able to know where they are at all times.  These laws can be put in effect.  In the meantime immediacy, when these guys get locked up for sexual predator, whatever you want to call them, they should be incarcerated.  They should be dressed in pink and put in the general population, so the other prisoners know what they have done.

And I think the word would get out there, when you are a sexual predator, you will be taken care of when you are incarcerated.  There’s a lot of laws you got to do and you got to pass these laws, because it keeps happening time after time.  And it’s not changing.  We are not learning anything, when you keep touching the stove and getting burned.  Aren’t we learning anything? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Charlie, that’s a good question.  I’ll tell you what.  Again, and it’s not just in Florida.  It seems, all across the country, every time we hear of a child missing, and they end up murdered, it always seems like it’s a repeat sex offender. 

(CROSSTALK)

CRIST:  Joe, I think Bo is absolutely right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What about—what about a death penalty for somebody that preys on young children time and time again? 

CRIST:  Well, you know, what you have to do is take the facts of the case into account, and if there’s a murder involved, if it’s that kind of a heinous crime, that’s why you have capital offenses, is for that very kind of case. 

I mean, Bo makes a very good point, Joe, when he talks about the fact that it happens over and over again.  That’s why I think it’s so important to make sure this legislation passes.  I mean, what is the old expression?  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Well, it’s been three times in Florida. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What is the toughest part of this new legislation?  What is the toughest part of this legislation that can give us a reason to hope that this won’t keep happening? 

CRIST:  Well, the toughest part is, it makes them go right back to—before a judge if they violate their probation, which sends them right into jail.  They don’t have opportunity to be out.  They don’t wear any kind of bracelet.  They are behind bars and they can not offend our young children in the state of Florida if they are locked up.  It’s common sense.  It’s the right thing to do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Marc Klaas, what about—what about the first time they molest a little kid under, let’s say, 10, 15 years of age, we slap an ankle bracelet on them then? 

KLAAS:  I have no problem with that. 

The argument, though, is going to be false accusations.  And the argument is also going to be that somebody might have been hung up in something that they didn’t do.  I would prefer to look at a two-strike law that deals with both of those issues, false accusation and repeated patterns of behavior.

But I would take it one step further.  In all fairness, Florida has one of the best sex offender registries in the country.  What we need is one-stop shop.  We need a federal sex offender registry that puts all half-million of these guys on the same list and gives the public the ability to search that list, using a wide variety of criteria, including identifying information, ethnicity on state of offense and address and zip code. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you know what, Marc?  You are exactly right.  And it’s got to be simple, because, right now, there’s just a patchwork of these things. 

KLAAS:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  If we have something like sexoffender.org or sexoffender.gov or whatever it is, all Americans need to know.  And the national government—and I am not really big into what the federal government does, but the federal government needs to educate people, just like they did when they changed the $20 bill. 

Let’s do it for something important.  Tell people that, if they want to find out if there’s a sexual offender in their neighborhood, anywhere in America, they go to sexoffender.gov. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, thanks for being with us, Charlie Crist, Marc Klaas and also Bo Dietl.  Greatly appreciate it.  Great points.  We are going to follow up on this and make this a campaign.  And I know you guys are going to play a key role in that campaign. 

Now, more tragic news, yesterday’s school massacre in Minnesota and the troubled 17-year-old gunman who killed 10 people.  The warning signs were there, so why didn’t anybody notice them? 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, the second worst school shooting in U.S.  history, the worst since Columbine, obviously.  It’s the massacre in Minnesota.  The question is, how did this happen again?  That’s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Lots of rounds and lots of damage, that’s the way FBI agents described the bloody scene at Red Lake High School in Minnesota today. 

We now know a student, Jeff Weise, killed his grandparents, took his policeman’s—policeman grandfather’s guns, and went on a rampage at his school, where he shot and killed a teacher and five students before killing himself. 

With me now is John Mitchell.  He’s with the American Federation of Teachers.  And we also have Dr. John Lott with the American Enterprise Institute. 

John Lott, let me begin with you. 

What can we do, short of arming these teachers all across America, to stop this type of tragic event from happening again? 

DR. JOHN LOTT, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE:  Short of arming teachers?  I mean, I think that is one thing we should begin to consider. 

I think it’s something that Minnesota allowed prior to 1995, when the

Federal Safe School Zone Act was passed.  You had states all around the

country that allowed people to carry concealed handguns, that allowed teachers or custodians or principals to carry concealed handguns on them prior to that time. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So, you think having scores of guns in schools will actually make schools safer? 

LOTT:  I don’t think you need to have scores of them.  I think just the possibility that you can have it. 

You see that, when states pass right-to-carry laws, there’s about a 60 percent drop in multiple victim public shootings. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  John Mitchell, you represent teachers.  What do you think of this idea? 

JOHN MITCHELL, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS:  Well, we think that schools are safe places, and they should be safe enough that no school employee should that they need to bring a weapon to school. 

We think that, really, what needs to happen—and this may—and these two elements may have been in place in Red Lake—is that you have really got to have good security procedures.  In some places, that may mean metal detectors and security guards.  But you also need to have a caring outreach to kids.  You have got to get to know those kids in your school, and you hope that the community is working with you on that, so that kids that are having problems, someone is reaching out to them.

So, it’s really—it’s got to be a two-pronged approach on the security side.  You know, I am sure that school, as many do schools today, went through lockdown procedures and drills.  Teachers do that with kids all the time now.  And it’s just—it’s terrific.  I think it’s really made our schools much safer than they used to be. 

LOTT:  But the attack occurred outside the school. 

MITCHELL:  And there were probably heroes involved in that school, teachers who saved lives. 

SCARBOROUGH:  John Lott, is that enough?  Is that enough, John? 

LOTT:  Well, I mean, I don’t think any of those things hurt.

But the problem becomes, when you have restrictions on this, it’s going to be the law-abiding citizens who generally obey them, and the ones who are intent on trying to commit these types of crimes—I mean, here, this person started these attacks outside the school.  I mean, whether you have metal detectors inside the school or not, they are not going to be enough to stop something like that from happening. 

The question becomes, you know, what has worked in the past?  You have concerns about teachers having permits for concealed handguns.  We had lots of experience prior to 1995.  There are a couple states that allow people to do that now.  Where are any horror stories that you can have from this?  I am not saying all the teachers should do this, but even the fact that a few might do this, a few who are unknown. 

I mean, you have guards at the school.  That’s one thing that happened.  But who did the student take out first?  He took out the guard. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

LOTT:  And the fact is, if you have somebody who he doesn’t know who is going to be able to protect themselves, that creates a deterrence there. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We are going to have to leave it there, John.  Thank you so much. 

And we will see all of you tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,