Friday, August 14, 2009

Sex Offense

The Economist published an interesting editorial1 and article2 about America's sex offender laws, how those laws are unjust and misguided in their purpose.

The problem stems mainly from the sex offender registration and residence laws in each state. The laws vary from state to state, but often impose onerous requirements on offenders many of whom have served their prison terms and have paid their debt to society.

The problems with the current regulations are that they often do not have a nuanced approach to preventing future sex offenses and to returning the offender to society. Most sexual offenses are between consenting parties. Some offenders have been convicted for acts that are no longer offenses (e.g. sodomy). The vast majority of the offenders are not sexual predators or child molesters, yet often the registry and residence laws treat all sexual offenders in the same way, and do not make distinctions about the kind or severity of offenses.

Our politicians score cheap political points by passing oppressive laws that severely limit where registered offenders can live, where they can work, and with whom they can associate. The public clamors for information from the sex offender registries, not realizing that the registries make no distinction between sexual predators and high school kids who got caught sending indecent photos on their cellphones.

People who are on the registries are discriminated against in employment and housing. They are frequently harassed, and sometimes murdered. We don't paint other categories of crime with the same broad brush. Our society certainly shouldn't treat all 650,000 sexual offenders in the United States in the same way, either. Our states need sane registration and residence policies that target dangerous sexual predators, and leave everyone else alone.

I think it is interesting that the articles about the injustice being done to sexual offenders were published in the Economist, and not in an American publication. Sometimes the land of the free isn't so free. I guess this topic is just too hot to tackle in the United States.

1America's Unjust sex laws, p. 9, The Economist, Vol. 392 Number 8643, August 8 - 14, 2009.

2Unjust and ineffective, pp. 21 - 23, Ibid.


Anonymous said...

Do you really want to know how many have been murdered, and who is murdering them, and the vigilantism that has occurred, then, you need to see these blogs:

Also, look carefully at the "Mistaken Identity" deaths.

In addition, study carefully the differences between "registered Offenders" and "Accused Offenders" the latter has the highest number of deaths, and they may not have done anything.