Wednesday, 07 Dec 2022

Polly Klaass murder fueled the 90s crime panic. Her sisters fear were repeating history

Polly Klaass murder fueled the 90s crime panic. Her sisters fear were repeating history


Polly Klaass murder fueled the 90s crime panic. Her sisters fear were repeating history

Annie Nichol was seven years old on 19 March 1994 when she was brought to the White House to talk to Bill Clinton.

With a stuffed dolphin by her side, the girl spoke to the president about her 12-year-old sister, Polly Klaas, who had been abducted five months earlier from the family's home in Petaluma, California, while Annie was sleeping nearby.

Annie and Clinton watched footage showing how she'd since booby-trapped her room with bells and ropes to stop intruders.

"Do you think I'm going to live to grow up?" television cameras captured her asking the president.

"You're a brave girl," Clinton responded, adding that he was working to make sure people with "serious problems" would remain in prison.

Today, Annie is tormented by the memory. Polly's kidnapping and subsequent murder fueled a host of "tough on crime" laws and a powerful victims' rights movement, which pushed America to have the highest reported incarceration rate in the world.

The meeting at the White House, Annie said, was a reminder of how her family's story was exploited to expand mass incarceration and racial inequality in America.

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