Good morning, everyone! The thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, and hopefully we all survived the tryptophan comas and shopping riots. But as the holiday weekend was a time for family, friends, and reflection on the things that make life worth living, Uncle Jeremy is going to have some fun and talk about something unpopular.
Fair warning: if at any point, you believe the justice system to be an overall valid application of limiting citizen rights, you should probably go away now.
Where are we headed with this? Sex offender's rights. Oh, yeah. Specifically, the bullshit that is rained on these people for no reason other than "easy target."
Now, let's get clear: sex offenses, especially those involving minors, are horrific and should be punished at the strongest level warranted by the given crime. But, and this is a big but, once the time is served, that should be the end of it as it is for any other crime. So yes, we're addressing the registry today among other things.
Why? Because our justice system is supposedly based on justice, on helping people to become or return to being functioning members of society. As with all things, any time a system says "oh, except you. You can just go 'eff yourself, because the system has nothing for you" I have a major problem with that. So yes, an equitable system is always desirable wherever possible. And if you don't like that?
The registry is a horrible practice that seems legit on the surface. If an individual has committed a sex crime and suffers from a paraphilia or sexual disorder that increases their chances of committing a sex crime again, why wouldn't it be a good idea to keep an eye on them?
Well … because it doesn't work that way. Taking it from the top: murderers, thieves, drug dealers, shoplifters, etc. can walk away after time served, no problems. Earlier if they play nice. We don't ban shoplifters from major stores, or track the movements of murderers, or prevent drug dealers from living within x distance of a school.
But we do keep sex offenders out of bars, away from schools, away from churches, away from, away from, away from, etc. And that's often for life. So, to put it another way: the punishment for this type of crime, and this type of crime only, is the effective excommunication of the offender from society.
If they're lucky, they'll have some help or a plan that they can work with to get back on their feet. If not, a sex offender might end up living somewhere horrible simply because there's nowhere else. They might end up with a shit job that will get them nowhere, because they can't work anywhere else.
And as for "well they've still got a chance to turn their life around"? Sure, a thief can reform, or a murderer can go on to become a doctor. A sex offender, however, can be stuck with that for the rest of their lives. It's on their ID in some states now, and a lifetime registry can ensure that no one ever forgets or forgives.
Is this a worst case scenario? Actually, nope. Worst case is the poor guys that end up living under bridges because there's no where around them they can live, and they can't get a permit to move to an area that has a place they can live. Of course, living under a bridge restricts employment options severely, but hey. They've got this coming, right?
Well … did you know that consensual sex with an individual over the age of consent but under the voting age can be reported as statutory by guardians? If you've heard the phrase "five'll get you twenty," then yes you did know that.
That's right. If you meet a cute guy or gal and they lie about their age, their parents can destroy your life forever if they're not cool with that. And no-one will say a damn thing, because you're obviously a pervert for sleeping with a kid.
If you go on a hot date, and go parking (does anyone actually do this anymore?) and the wrong person sees and takes it all the way, you're done.
If you step into an alley to take a leak because it's 2:10 a.m. and the bar just closed and you've got a 20 minute drive home and you're not gonna make it … someone sees you and isn't happy about it, that's indecent exposure. Congrats, you're a sex offender.
But the worst case? And believe me, I know at least three good guys that this actually happened to: a guy or gal gets upset at you and levels charges. And even if he or she retracts, there's enough of an interest for the parents or attorney's to pursue.
If you can't mount a defense, or if you can't do the impossible and prove a negative, guess what? The rest of that life of yours is going to range from difficult to pretty much destroyed. For the rest of your life. Because hey, that's how we roll, right? No mercy.
So what's the solution, here?
Well for starters, let's kindly define the freaking difference between things that need to be investigated as sex crimes and the drunk guy taking a leak in an alley. I mean, seriously.
Next, let's maybe have a bit more rigorous protocol for looking into sex crimes. Yes, there is a strong gender bias statistically speaking, but could we freaking remember that an accusation is not proof of guilt and that if an accuser recants there's probably no reason to go ahead and destroy someone for the lulz.
Finally, let's kill the stupid registry outright. Parole does the same damn thing anyway, as does probation. And if there's an honest need to track an individual based on fear of recidivism through commission of a sex crime, the hell are we releasing that person for?
If there's an honest to gods psychiatric concern that someone is going to get hurt, why the fuck are you placing restrictions of someone and then releasing them? Don't you think a person that there is an honest concern about will find a way?
So, to recap: define a freaking sex crime as a freaking sex crime; follow through beyond accusation and initial investigation, including the motives, history, etc. of all parties involved; and get rid of a redundant system that has no purpose beyond branding an individual for life with the sole purpose of "protecting" others around them so they can be let out of jail and ignored by society. Especially given that such protection is afforded by non-life destroying systems already in place.
And that, if anyone is still reading, is my soapbox moment for the Thanksgiving holiday.