I think I could talk for hours about the topic of ‘sex offenders.’ It’s a hot topic around many kitchen tables and one that primarily focuses on concerns about whether a sex offender should be required to “register” for the public to see.
The whole concept might sound good for those of us that come with a protective instinct, but there are many items to consider and become educated on – for example, even knowing the whereabouts of a known sex offender does not prevent them from reoffending.
Sex offender recidivism rates are largely unknown by the public and honestly, not something that people really care about. What they care about is safety – keeping loved ones protected. Ironically, that’s where statistics and common sense fly in the face of the arguments supporting sex offender laws.
Consider this – sex crimes have the LOWEST recidivism rates (… outside of murder) when compared to drug offenses, DUI offenses, domestic violence, theft and assault. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006) These are the facts, yet the public just doesn’t buy into them. They want to see sex offenders required to register but care little about other crimes.
A DUI is the perfect example. First, does anyone care to know how many DUI offenses you have to have until it’s considered a felony? But don’t stop there – how many DUI offenses until you go to prison or until you can’t remove/expunge it from your criminal record?
Would you let your loved ones be driven around by someone with a DUI conviction? Would you allow that person to pick your son up from a Boy Scouts meeting? Before you answer, consider that someone else may have a loved one that was hit by this exact person, perhaps handicapped for life.
Why pick on sex offenders? Why not place all DUI convictions on a special public list, color their license plate green or stamp there license “offender”?
The courts will allow someone convicted of a DUI to take ‘diversion’ – otherwise known as a ‘pass’. It’s a “3 strikes until we decide to do something” policy.
It’s not that way with sex offenders. One strike… you’re out… and out in a big way.
I can honestly say that when I was convicted, the atmosphere was tense because of the registration. Serving time and/or being on probation/parole was nothing compared to being red-flagged on a public ‘shame’ list.
I think about all the good men and women that simply did something dumb. (… I know, that’s a blanket statement, but hang with me.) Should they be restricted as to where they can live? Should they be restricted as to where they can work? That’s what the sex offender registration does.
I realize that my thinking may fly in the face of most logic and I also realize that there are extreme cases that warrant stiff punishments. But it just makes me upset because when I’m told that I can’t attend a school ‘carnival’ or a Boy Scout ‘pine wood derby’ event because I’m on ‘the list’ – it’s just flat out hazing. Nothing makes these events (… events more crowed with adults than children) more safe with me staying at home.
In fact, think of all the other adults at these events that have done something bad or dumb but simply don’t have to ‘register’ publicly. I bet no one would want their kids at these events if they knew the truth!
Yes, someday I’d like to see the sex offenders law changed. Not that I think they need to be more lenient – I’m all for punishment – just more balanced and reflective of what purpose they need to serve. In a nutshell, I believe that public registration is wrong. It’s gotten way out of hand, creates hysteria and is just flat out being used as a false sense of public security.