Some of the new laws regarding sex offenders (including having them register) trouble me–we seem to be punishing them for crimes not yet committed. But don”t worry–I”m not going soft on sex crimes.
Neither is Doug Kern in a piece on Tech Central Station. “’Notifications’ and ’offender lists’ are for sissies,” writes Kern who (like me) belongs to the lock them up and throw away the key school of thought.
“[H]owever good an idea these laws [notification, etc.] may be, and however settled their constitutionality may be, it?s hard to escape the fact that such laws penalize sex offenders simply for having the status of sex offenders. Worst of all, these laws are band-aids on a severed artery. The real question is not where we should house our habitual sexual offenders, but why we allow habitual sexual offenders to pollute society in the first place.
“The appalling examples of Joseph Duncan and John Couey should disabuse anyone of the notion that sex offender registration presents any significant obstacle to the determined deviant. Couey and Duncan were both under different forms of court control when they (’allegedly’) committed their horrific acts. Precisely what protection did that control provide? Admittedly, these laws give the police a list of the usual suspects to round up. But where?s the evidence to suggest that these laws prevent motivated bad guys from committing further crimes?
“I know of no successful legal attack against the constitutionality of well-drafted sex offender registration laws. They have been shown to be tools of civil regulation, not criminal punishment. But let?s not kid ourselves. Our system of law is predicated on the belief that men should be tried for what they have done, not for what they might do or for what they are prone to do. Megan?s Law creates a quasi-punitive regulatory system that penalizes citizens for the risks they ostensibly present to the community — even after the criminal system of justice has, in principle, punished those citizens for the actions that demonstrate such risks.
“In our quest to protect our families and communities from sex offenders, we have embraced laws that turn a popular principle of legal fairness on its ear.
“Non-elderly violent sex offenders present an intolerable risk to society. And while knowing is half the battle, putting bad guys away is the other half. Yes, my pervert-enabling friends: the mass incarceration of sexual predators will be expensive. It will deprive many ex-cons of any significant chance at rehabilitation. It will deprive society of many contributions that recovered sex offenders could make. It will shame and stigmatize the families, friends, and loved ones of sex offenders. I don?t care. No community in America deserves to be the guinea pig for social experimentation in the care and feeding of violent sex criminals. And no sex offender should live a life that combines the boundless contempt of society with infinite opportunities to commit further atrocities. Megan?s Law? It?s better than nothing, but I prefer Kern?s Standard: Punish and rehabilitate the low-level offenders, punish and stigmatize the mid-level offenders, and eliminate the violent sex monsters. ’Notifications’ and ’offender lists’ are for sissies.”
It seems to me that a serious offense with a child is grave enough to put somebody away forever.
That is what society must do.