Sex Offender Registries

A friend posted a link to this blog post regarding sex offender registries. And I have to say, I can't support the concept. There is no other type of crime that is treated the way sex offenses are. Regardless of the nature of the crime, and the history of the offender, they are singled out for public shame and forced to serve a completely different kind of sentence than crimes of any other type.

There is a dichotomy in this country in which sex is more offensive than violence. It is assumed that if someone commits one sex related crime (even if it's something along the lines of an 18 year old sleeping with a 17 year old, and the parents of the 17 year old (not the 17 year old) decide to press charges), they cannot control themselves and will act in a predatory fashion and become a repeat offender. Whereas, some with two or three DUI convictions not only doesn't have to tell the neighbors who he drives past night after night, but frequently, doesn't even lose the privilege of driving. I could easily be living next door to a habitual child abuser, a habitual drunk driver, someone who has been convicted of breaking & entering multiple times, someone convicted of manufacturing or selling drugs, or even someone who had committed murder. But none of those people are legally obligated to tell me about their crime. I can't look up on a web site what they did. Once they've served their time and finished their probation or parole, the are free to come and go as they please.

I have the ability to educate my child on how to lessen the danger from criminals who would take advantage of them, whether in a sexual manner, through violence, or simply via con games or scams. But I can't tell my child "Don't cross the street if there's a drunk driver coming down the block. Yet, I'm not warned about those "criminals" who may live in my neighborhood.

The perceived need for "sex offender registries" shows a massive failure in our criminal justice system. If a person is still a danger to society, putting them on a list doesn't solve the problem. If they're still a danger, they should still be in custody. And if they've served their sentence, they should be allowed to try to rebuild their life with the same assumption of innocence that the rest of us enjoy.

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