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Sex Offender Registry Stupidity

I’ve come to the conclusion that the U.S. has a pretty messed up judicial system. We allow no-knock SWAT raids on non-violent offenders in the name of protecting evidence. The implication being that the evidence is more important the lives of the non-violent offenders and even the police officers. We also have spent countless resources combating the War on Drugs…a war about what people decide to put in their bodies. Yes, drugs can destroy one’s life…just as alcohol can. Yet we decided long ago the War on Alcohol was stupid so we stopped it. Not so with drugs.

Now we have a story like this. These sex offender laws are becoming not only overly harsh and broad, but also counter productive. If you can’t live within 2,000 feet of a school (a bit over 1/3rd of a mile) of a school, park, church, day care, or any other facility likely to have children present then you are pretty much exiled. This encourages sex offenders to just disappear and not stay on any registry at all. Seriously, in Florida sex offenders are ordered by the legal system to live under a bridge.

The Florida Department of Corrections says there are fewer and fewer places in Miami-Dade County where sex offenders can live because the county has some of the strongest restrictions against this kind of criminal in the country.

Florida’s solution: house the convicted felons under a bridge that forms one part of the causeway.

The Julia Tuttle Causeway, which links Miami to Miami Beach, offers no running water, no electricity and little protection from nasty weather. It’s not an ideal solution, Department of Corrections Officials told CNN, but at least the state knows where the sex offenders are.

Yes, they know where they are for now…when they finally get sick of that life and decide to leg it out of state, and try to start over? Will the new neighbors know anything about the sex offender in their midst? Will the state know? Will the authorities know? No, no, and no.

And now these laws have been extended so that even a 16 year old boy or girl who has sex with another boy or girl that is sufficiently younger can wind up on the list for life even if the sex is consensual. Here is one example, Wendy Whitaker has been listed as a sex offender for 12 year and is danger of losing her house because of a decade old blowjob. When she had just turned 17 she performed oral sex on a classmate who was 3 weeks shy of his 16th birthday.

Another stupid application of sex offender laws and registries: Boulders annual Naked Pumpkin Run runners could be charged as sex offenders and forced to register.

Another case: a 15 year old girl was arrested on child pornography charges for taking nude pictures of…herself. This girl could be forced to register as a sex offender for a very long time possibly the rest of her life.

None of the people in these three cases are a likely to present a danger to children or even adults. Making them register as sex offenders and destroying their lives is simply stupid. And even for actual sex offenders releasing them then passing laws that make it impossible to live anywhere in society is just mind boggling stupid. If they are still such a danger to society, then lock them the Hell up. Don’t release convicted criminals who are so highly likely to re-offend back into society and set up a monitoring system that is so harsh it actually encourages them to avoid registering as a sex offender.

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About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research.

Comments

  1. [...] Verdon makes this point: Making them register as sex offenders and destroying their lives is simply stupid. And even for [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  2. just me says:

    I am not entirely opposed to sex offender registries-I think that they should either be limited to violent/predatory sexual behaviors (leaving out the statutory type offenses) or at least come with an actual description of what the conviction was for.

    But I will be honest when I say that I don’t have much empathy at all for people who prey on others sexually-I personally think if they don’t want to be on a registry then maybe they shouldn’t prey on other people.

    I don’t think sexual offenders should be prohibited from living in homes within X amount of distance from Y.

    I think prohibitions on living close to or near schools or parks can make sense for some offenders but should be determined by judges based on the specific case of the offender, not an arbitrary law that makes somebody who had sex with their teenage girlfriend when he was also a teenager unable to find a home.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  3. Steve Verdon says:

    But I will be honest when I say that I don’t have much empathy at all for people who prey on others sexually-I personally think if they don’t want to be on a registry then maybe they shouldn’t prey on other people.

    I agree, they are bad people. However, decent people are getting on these registries for what most people wouldn’t see as predatory sexual behavior.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  4. tom p says:

    None of the people in these three cases are a likely to present a danger to children or even adults. Making them register as sex offenders and destroying their lives is simply stupid. .

    I know a guy who got kicked out of a bar at closing time w/o being allowed to use the toilet. He went into the alley, behind a dumpster, and promptly got busted for “indecent exposure”. (I guess the dumpster was offended) Stupid? Yes. A danger to society? Hardly. And yet, if he had pleaded guilty to the charges, he would have had to register.

    And even for actual sex offenders releasing them then passing laws that make it impossible to live anywhere in society is just mind boggling stupid. If they are still such a danger to society, then lock them the Hell up. Don’t release convicted criminals who are so highly likely to re-offend back into society and set up a monitoring system that is so harsh it actually encourages them to avoid registering as a sex offender

    My State Rep recently sent a questionaire out asking if I would be in favor of putting elec. bracelets on all registered sexual offenders. All I could think was, “Who is going to pay for this?” Truth is, very little of all this has anything to do with protecting society.

    It is pure political posturing, the demonizing of a segment of society that nobody will defend and cannot defend itself.

    A true “win-win”…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. Grewgills says:

    Maybe we should just have a complete criminal registry and everyone ever convicted of any crime should not be allowed to live near areas where repeat cases could occur. Drunk drivers would not be allowed to live near bars or streets (or maybe would be forced to live within walking distance of at least 2 bars open past midnight), murderers would not be allowed to live near anywhere people gathered, thieves and robbers would not be allowed to live near retail outlets or homes, etc.

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  6. [...] Verdon makes this point: Making them register as sex offenders and destroying their lives is simply stupid. And even for [...]

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  7. tom p says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the U.S. has a pretty messed up judicial system.

    And by the by Steve,(not to be snide, but) what was your first clue?

    When the state suddenly decided it could seize assets without any evidence of criminal wrong doing (much less charges being filed)?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. Steve Verdon says:

    And by the by Steve,(not to be snide, but) what was your first clue?

    My first clue…geez I don’t know. I can say it started several years ago reading Radley Balko’s blog. Actually rather depressing reading.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  9. tom p says:

    My first clue…geez I don’t know. I can say it started several years ago reading Radley Balko’s blog. Actually rather depressing reading.

    Balko’s blog… don’t really know it (been there a time or 2) maybe I should read it on a regular basis? Than again… I am already depressed enuf already… Nahhhh…. I will just sit here and bliss out to the strings of Bach.

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