2006/11/22

Should sex offenses result in banishment?

I have sympathy for communities that want to keep convicted sex offenders out. I understand the concerns of parents who worry about sexual predators going after their children. But this national obsession with draconian punishments for even the mildest of sex offenses, like statutory rape or public exposure, has got to stop.

Why do we feel the need to treat even the suspicion of a sex offense as an already tried and convicted crime? Think it doesn't happen? You're wrong. In Ohio, a recently enacted law allows a prosecutor, sheriff, or alleged victim to petition a court to place a person in a 'civil-registry' even when no conviction has been secured. And, once you're in that registry...you're screwed! You'll be treated exactly as if you'd committed a crime, unable to live where you choose or to challenge your status for a period of six years.

And while we're on the subject of "living where you choose"... Many states make it practically impossible for registered sex offenders to even find a place to live. Take Georgia for example, where recently enacted legislation prohibits the convicted from living within 1000 feet of a school, church, school bus stop, or playground, effectively placing whole counties out of bounds. In other words, BANISHMENT, a concept that Georgia state officials don't just recognize...but applaud.
My intent personally is to make it so onerous on those that are convicted of these offenses... they will want to move to another state...

Georgia House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R), Sponsor
"These offenses"? Like underage consensual sex? Because that's all it takes to get you in Georgia's sex offender registry, and this law applies to everyone in that registry.

Basically, for the convicted, one's status as a "sex offender" is now a life-long stain allowing for no chance of rehabilitation, no notion of "time-served", and perpetual ostracism. It's crazy, and it has to stop.

15 Comments:

I agree with you. The registry should be online and tell exactly what happened in the crime. A 21 year old female having a consentual relationship with a 17 year old male??? or vice versa. Or some lonely old guy playing with himself in an XX rated movie theater. All things are relative. The Florida online registry does give some information and that makes a difference. It seems like the lawmakers just don't trust the people to have common sense in working out living arrangements.
I think it is all part of our current culture of fear. Instead of using common sense and being rational, people immediately skip to panic and throw everyone into groups whether or not they fit in that group
once you're in that registry...you're screwed!
Nice analogy there!:) Most of the laws, such as you cited in Georgia, are the direct result of Evangelical frenzy, which in turn, is the result of ignorance. They have long seized upon sex as "the great sin." Sex education in that group isn't widely taught.:)

Actual sex offenders (old man groping young girl, 50 yr old having sex with 14 yr old, etc), are in fact a real problem, for the "reclamation" rate is extremely low; the recidivism rate is extremely high. In short, nearly all sex offenders can not be "cured."

Finally, what do we see blaring incessantly from all the MSM? SEX! SEX! SEX! It sells products, it sells newscasts, it sells most anything - including political careers. Elect Joe. He's tough on sex offenders!

And John Q. Public buys in, because of the "do it for me" mentality so prevalent in America today. Then there's the lunatic activists groups that want anybody that looks at an underage girl locked up....you can see the potential for this to explode into something uncontrollable - which is exactly what's happened. Like terrorism, the truth is, we really don't know what to do about sex offenders, so we make patchwork laws, establish artifical boundaries, to make it look like "we're doing something."
There are, sadly, plenty of godless sickos out there and future is right, they cannot be rehabilitated. Thus, I have no problem with long prison sentences or civil commitment (or banishment, for that matter, which was and is a traditional tribal punishment). I cannot, however, see how a "civil registry" is constitutional, especially without a conviction. The replacement of old statutory rape laws with sexual assault laws that treat consensual sex between high school freshmen and seniors EXACTLY the same as some 50 year old monster raping a 6 year old girl, has combined with an alarming explosion of false claims of sexual abuse by teenagers seeking revenge against parents, step-parents or teachers, spouses seeking advantage in custody fights, even neighbors pissed over a property line dispute (I saw this one first hand, unfortunately). And no politician will dare touch try to fix this problem, for fear of being labelled "soft on crime." Texas is now seriously considered a law to abolish probation for sex offenders, mandate a minimum 25 year sentence for first time offenders and the death penalty for repeat offenders.
This is certainly, as has been said, related to the culture of fear, and fear is the mindkiller. Those doing the most crying about this across the board stamp of "sex offender" are many of the same hypocrites that claim the high road and are too often found traipsing the low road.

Terror is being used to stoke the embers of fear in much the same way. Middle Eastern Americans can tell you all about the label placed on them and the sideways looks and outright discrimination, ie profiling, and they haven't committed one crime and most have no plans to do so. Terror has been greatly exaggerated for political and hegemonic gains... Of course there are vast differences between the two, sex offenders and Middle Eastern Americans, but my point is that any thing can be conflated and exaggerated until the only people living in America are lily white Christians and pro-government (establishment) zealots.

There's a name for this form of government...
There are, sadly, plenty of godless sickos out there and future is right, they cannot be rehabilitated.

LC, TFWY...Though you're right on the recividism rates, I don't think that it's relevant. Sex offender registries are like three strikes laws, a blunt instrument applied to subtle and complex problem. Are we prepared as a society to assert that because...say...75% (?)...of offenders may repeat, the other 25% have to be punished in perpetuity? Sorry...I can't agree.

Why don't we simply ship criminals off to some desert island and let them experience their "Lord of the Flies" moment? Are sex offenders worse than murderers who've served their time and are no longer considered a threat? It does happen, but they don't have their names placed on a list where they can be found and attacked or at the very least driven their communities.

This nonsense is entirely out of hand.
TPM, for the most part I agree, but the overzealous use of things like public registries almost rises to the level of cruel and unusual punishment. We're telling sex offenders, your crime places you outside the boundaries of normal society; you live where we tell you and do what we tell you. Though we won't keep you in jail, you are essentially a surf.

Peacechick, I think that we had a misunderstanding. I think that online registries are an over-correction that need to be abolished.
I agree they certainly can't all be lumped together. Because there are plenty of little girls out there with older guys...consensual...and I don't think it is fair to the guy when the girl is oh soooo willing. That puts me in mind of Roman Polanski and the 13 year old girl who looked 25 and her mother was just perfectly happy her little darling was with someone rich and famous. He thought she was an adult. So they reall went after him and he fled the country...because he knew they'd make an example of him. Nobody said what she did was wrong or her mother prostituting her own daughter. I think she thought she'd get her into movies or some such thing. Big surprise for Roman. As if the Manson thing wasn't bad enough. I jusut remember how it ticked me off how mad they got at him...and personally I believed he was deceived by both women.

Came to say Happy Thanksgiving to you and the Mrs. and the Frogette of course.
If society refuses to provide proper support for those who have problems dealing with mental aberrations, including sex offenses, it is a bit rough to then come down heavy after the fact.
Sex offenses are often traced back to people who should be under some kind of supervised care, but we would rather see them on the street it seems. Well that or in various legislatures.
One of the things that is allegedly "The best things about being a Man" is that "When you're a man, the world is your toilet!"

Unfortunately, at least in my state, taking a leak behind a building is "indecent exposure", which is a "sex offense" - and will get you on those lists.

Yes, the guy who got drunk in a bar and stopped behind a bush on the way home to recycle his beer is as much of a THREAT TO SOCIETY as a 80 year old pedophile who likes to screw 6 year old girls.

Only in America...
Wow! I thought I'd stir up a hornet's nest with this one, but we the excpetion of LC (a bit), we all seem to be on the same page. OK...

Sumo, I didn't know about how the Roman Polanski thing went down. Looked 25 huh? Maybe he should have checked an ID? That sucks! Oh...and before I forget my manners...thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes. I'll pop by a little later.

Cartledge, we have the same problem with many of the homeless, criminalizing their state but providing no support to get them the care they need.

Sewmouse, there definitely needs to be some sanity in the system. It's lacking now and the 'large net' that most states cast is sweeping up a lot of non-sex offenders.
"Are sex offenders worse than murderers who've served their time and are no longer considered a threat?"

Yes. Having represented pedophiles (real pedophiles, not stupid horny 18-19 year olds who had sex with stupid horny 14-15 year olds) I can tell you (and they will too) that they CANNOT be rehabilitated. Period. They WILL reoffend. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. If someone is truly a pedophile (a psychological condition that can be correctly diagnosed) than there is no hope of rehabilitation. The best solution (short of chemical castration, which is no solution since rape is a crime of violence, not sex) is civil commitment; have them declared mentally incompetent and lock them up in an institution for the rest of their natural lives. True pedophiles are an incredible challenge to our entire theory of criminal justice, since they defy rehabilitation (the root word of penitentiary is, after all, penitent) and this is certainly not the ideal solution. But it's the ONLY one that will work.
our communities are resulting to tough laws because offenders are more aggressive. even after they get deported SOUTH, they keep coming back.

SEE HERE
There is a very interesting novel I recommend, Acid Row by Minnette Walters. It explores every side of this situation, but it is a novel, a mystery, but well woven. This is a complex issue.

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