Friday, April 19, 2013

signs on the lawn; signs of...hey!

Mostboringradical talks about the Florida sheriff who is putting red signs in the lawns of sexual predators--not all sex offenders, only the ones he considers to be predators.
This begs the question of why people who don’t fall into those categories are on the list in the first place, and shows how registries are rendered effectively useless when they are filled with non-violent and/or statutory offenders.
Well, yes. Yes, it does. Many of these sex offenders were snared in online stings in which they had no contact with actual children.
Perhaps we should be asking why law enforcement is bothering to run these stings when they themselves acknowledge that the men they are arresting–non-violent, statutory, and nearly all first-time offenders–are not predators? Why, when they arrest a man in one of these stings, or a college student for downloading child porn, do they pat themselves on the back in the press for catching a “predator” when, in fact, those offenses would not classify the offender as a sexual predator? These internet-based stings create sex offenders rather than catching predators.
So: signs of the uselessness of the registry! If the registry worked as advertised, the red signs wouldn't be necessary. If the registry worked as advertised, everyone on the registry would need red signs. 
And we should acknowledge that filling registries with first-time, non-violent, statutory offenders makes it harder, not easier, for parents to get the information the registry purports to provide them with. They aren’t all that worried about whether their 27yo neighbor might say yes if their teen daughter propositions him–most parents realize that a teen daughter who is seeking out sex with older men has problems that need to be addressed within the home, not by the government. They are worried about whether their neighbor is going to kidnap, molest, and maybe kill their 6 year old child. Those are the offenders they want identified, and when those violent and/or repeat offenders are hidden between entries for dozens and dozens of men who, when they were 24, made a stupid choice involving a teen girl looking for sex online, they have trouble finding that information.
The sex offender registry has so little to do with protecting anyone and so much to do with extra punishment for people who have merely offended the sensibilities of legislators. And you know what? I doubt that legislators are even all that offended; surely they remember being stupid themselves. Legislators are simply looking for someone they can use to demonstrate that they are tough on crime and sex offenders have very few defenders.


Anonymous said...

Unless, of course, it is YOUR 16 yr old daughter who propositions a friendly neighborhood 27 yr old who accepts her advances. Then he'd be a vile sex offender, right?

Your justification of your husband's vile actions is appalling.

Marie said...

Kate, help me out here. Point me to where I say it is okay to look at child porn.

And if that 27-year-old was a really creepy guy, he still shouldn't be on the registry...because there shouldn't be a registry at all.