Tuesday, August 14, 2012

improving the sex offender registry?

In a recent discussion about the sex offender registry, suggestions were made about how it could be improved, how it could be made more effective. I think we can neither improve it nor make it more effective. We must abolish it.

No matter how the sex offender registry is designed, no matter how narrowly we craft its purpose, the sex offender registry will become the ugly thing it is today. One suggestion is to put fewer people on the registry, only the really dangerous offenders. The problem with this is that when there is a decision to be made about how dangerous a man is, a judge will err on the side of caution. Sure, this guy probably won't do anything bad but if he does, the judge could be held responsible. Judges will put more people on the registry than they need to. Prosecutors will push to put convicts on the registry.

Isn't that how we got to the point where all sex offenders are on the registry and some are on it for life? The registry did not begin like this.

I do believe there is a tiny number of people who are so dangerous that they should be...should be what? Should  be in prison for life? Should be on a registry for life? Should be supervised for life? Should be committed to an institution for the mentally ill? For life? 

Are we not already living among dangerous people? We don't know who they are or what they will do, yet we live among them. First offenders have to come from somewhere, after all. What do we do now about unknown dangers? Don't we manage that risk as it is? We accept a huge risk every time we drive our cars in traffic and we think nothing of it. 

Why do the very words "sex offender" send some people into a tailspin of fright?


Anonymous said...

We, too, are in the middle of this nightmare as a family and I have come to the conclusion that the "scarlet" letter is alive and well in todays society. The laws for even one count of child porn for a the first time offender are so excessive! He never even had contact with a child but...

Marie said...

I am so sorry for what your family is going through. I have often thought that the sex offender registry is today's Scarlet Letter and you're right that the sentences for first time offenders are outrageous. That's what we get for voting for legislators who are tough on crime...without realizing that the crimes are so easily committed. Only a click of a mouse can make you a felon.