Right Turn – Left Turn Weekly Topic

Registered Sex Offenders

Have sex offenders already served their time? Why should they continue to register?



Left Turn

lefty

With abductions of children on the local news and television shows dedicated to catching child predators on air, the world seems like a scary place for kids. In order to combat some of this fear, and possibly make the streets safer, convicted sex offenders must register in some way. All states and the District of Columbia have registries. Megan's Law, which is section (e) of the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Act, requires all states to conduct community notification of the identities of sex offenders. However, each state is given broad discretion of how to go about doing this. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, passed in 2006, calls for specific registry requirements and public access and searchable website requirements. These requirements must be enacted within three years of 2006.

While, no sympathy should be given to those who commit acts of violence, especially against children, one must ask what good comes from forcing convicted sex offenders to register with the state. Does it allow one to pursue vigilante justice (which is illegal)? Does it prevent recidivism? Does it protect children?

Sex offenders are the only convicted offenders that must register, thus having their identity and location become public knowledge. Many would argue that this is only fair because they committed the crime, therefore they should have it follow them for the rest of their lives. However, they have either gone to prison, are on probation, or are on parole. They have done their time for the crime. If one feels that their time was not long enough, than that was the decision of the sentencing judge, not the citizen to make. Murderers, drug dealers, armed robbers, and other violent criminals are not forced to register. It is highly likely parents would not want their children living near any one of these types of convicted offenders (especially a former child killer, or a former drug pusher that dealt to kids). Yet, they do not have to register.

Registering as a convicted offender for any crime is not effective. Statistics do not prove that registration prevents abuse of children or prevents sex offenders from committing these crimes again. Does it make parents tell their children not to talk to strangers? I am sure they already do. Does it make parents move out of their neighborhoods? Most do not have the money for that. Many parents are vigilant about their child's safety. A registration is not going to prevent a child from getting hurt.

It may be interesting or a little voyeuristic to know where sex offenders live in your town. No one wants to live next door to one. Yet, the registry is just not an effective tool to end sex crimes. It is like a big red target following the offender wherever he/she goes. The money that is spent on the registry could be diverted towards counseling or treatment instead. That would be more effective.

No one can be sure she does not live next door to a drug dealer, murderer, or any other kind of felon. Just because people do not want to live next to sex offenders and are afraid to do so, yet have no statistical proof that the registries work, is no reason to waste money and publish people's addresses and identities.

Amanda Williams – Political Contributor
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Right Turn

righty

Communities are made safer by the requirements of registering and listing convicted sex offenders. The registries enhance the overall safety of the community in a multitude of ways. A woman who will be living alone can use the registry as a tool to determine if there are known threats in an area to which she may be considering moving. Parents certainly want to know of potential threats before moving into an area. The registered offenders might be less inclined to commit another sex crime knowing that they might be immediate suspects. There also may be a deterrent factor in knowing that if one commits a sex crime, he or she will forever be known and registered as a sex offender.

The community safety aspect of sex offender registry laws is not ideal, but it is better than it would be if offenders weren’t required to register. The best (but politically incorrect) means of enhancing community safety with respect to sex offenders would be to never allow a convicted sex offender to roam free again. The idea of permanently keeping rapists and child molesters off the streets may seem harsh to some. I suggest consideration be given to determine who deserves protection, the innocent or the guilty. The sad truth about our “justice” system is that the guilty party must have his rights protected while the victim’s rights are neglected. I also suggest that the rights of potential victims should take precedence over the rights of the offenders that have already proven themselves willing to attack.

The question sometime arises, “hasn’t the offender already served his time?” The answer depends on the perspective, priorities, and morals of the person being asked. The sentence a child molester serves before being unleashed on society is too light (assuming you don’t believe child molesters deserve the opportunity to molest more children.) Therefore the time a released offender has already served was insufficient. Had Wayne DuMond served his time before being paroled? If he hadn’t been paroled, he could not have raped and murdered the mother of six in Missouri. Even though DuMond had been castrated, which should accompany all rape and child molestation sentences, he terrorized at least one more woman following his release. Instead of asking “hasn’t the offender already served his time?” perhaps it would be more appropriate to ask “why would you want to enable repeat sex offenders?”

Should people convicted of all felonies be forced to register and be listed for the remainder of their lives? It wouldn’t be a bad idea, although some felonies are worse than others. I think it would be indicative of sick and twisted morality to compare violent acts against innocent people (especially children) to non-violent felonies. I suggest that registering all felons would be fine as long as the violent criminals received top priority and the heaviest scrutiny. That is of course unless society decides to do the right thing and refuse to allow convicted murderers, rapists, and child molesters to ever be set free to stalk innocent prey again!

Sam Pierce – Internet Blogger
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