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There is no group more oppressed in our society than ex-convicts. Within that group, paroled sex offenders are the most oppressed of all.  Every politician knows that he can make cheap points with his constituency by championing some measure that is tough on crime.  The fact that crime can only be reduced by providing education, training, counseling, support, and dignity to ex-offenders is ignored by most officeholders because they don't really care about reducing crime; they care about getting votes, and the perks that go along with the power of being elected to office.

That is why in California now, the system is virtually guaranteeing that paroled sex offenders will end up reincarcerated.  It is doing so by requiring that the parolees live in the streets, without housing or jobs or help of any kind.  The result will be more violations of parole leading to costly imprisonment, more destruction of the lives of people who made mistakes but want to remake their lives, and less security for the citizens of the state.  Thus, my state's approach to convicted sex offenders is both inhumane and counterproductive.  It is, however, unlikely that anyone will have the balls to do anything about it.

Before discussing the present status of paroled sex offenders in California, I want to deal with those who are going to respond to this diary in the same way most people in my community respond to the issue - that is, by asking why we should give a fuck about convicted sex offenders.  Aren't they the spawn of Satan, unredeemably evil people who live only to prey on the weakest members of society?

The answer is no, at least not most of them.  Yes, there are sex offenders who are undeniably dangerous and will remain so throughout most, if not all, of their lifetimes.  There are drug users and robbers and burglars and white-collar criminals who fall into the same category.  However, there are two important things to recognize about people convicted of sex crimes.

First, there are sex crimes and there are sex crimes.  In California, sex offenses range from the date rape of a woman by her boyfriend to the rape of a woman walking home from the bus stop by a stranger, from the consensual sexual relations between a 13 year-old and her 18 year-old boyfriend to the molestation of an 8 year-old by her father, from the drunken groping of a woman by a fellow party-goer to the fondling of a detained woman by a corrupt cop.  There may be an argument that these should all be criminal offenses, but there can be no argument that these all carry different degrees of moral culpability, and represent qualitatively different species of pathology.  One can become a sex offender because of pedophilia, because of sociopathy, because of alcoholism, because of immaturity, because of a history of abuse or molest, or because of situational stupidity (among other reasons).  However, the criminal justice system in California increasingly treats all varieties of sex offense exactly the same.

Second, contrary to popular opinion, historically the recidivism rate for sex offenders has been lower than that of other offenders.  Of course, any recidivism is a bad thing, but the important point is that it is a myth that all sex offenders are irrevocably broken creatures who will invariably commit more crimes if given half a chance.

Despite increasingly punitive laws, lots of people convicted of sex offenses are released from prison every day.  We have a choice about how to deal with them.  We can give them the psychological, financial, and vocational assistance they will need to reenter society and develop into productive, law-abiding residents.  Or we can further marginalize them and demonize them, making it as nearly impossible as we can for them to atone for their behavior and ensure that it never happens again.

California has chosen Plan B.  Parolees who were convicted of sex offenses are not allowed to live within 2000 feet of schools or parks, regardless of the nature of their convictions.  They are released with no money, and with a minimal ability to get a job given their prior record and the current unemployment rate.  Parole does nothing to help them get work.  They are not allowed to leave the county of their parole, even if they have family, housing, and/or job opportunities in another county.  They are given referrals to apartments in which they can legally live, but which they cannot afford.  They are not allowed to stay in shelters.  Even when they are fortunate enough to be able to afford to stay in legal housing, they are usually hounded out.  In Orange County, convicted sex offenders are now being told by parole agents that their only recourse is to live on the streets.  This treatment is accorded to all parolees, regardless of offense and regardless of willingness and desire to reintegrate into society.

It is easy to demonize those who have committed crimes, particularly those who have committed sex crimes.  It makes politicians successful to do so, and it makes the average person feel good to do so.  The problem is that this approach destroys the lives of many people who may still have things to contribute to society if they are given an opportunity to rectify their errors and to get back on their feet.  What may be more important to some, this approach is also insanely destructive to the goal of reducing criminal behavior.  Someone who is released from prison after serving time for a sex offense already has a difficult task ahead of him if he wants to rebuild his life and have a productive future.  When he is prevented from having a place in which to sleep, a bathroom in which to take a shower, an address to give prospective employers, and a dignity associated with being allowed to live with his fellow man, the likelihood of his being able to avoid reoffending is drastically reduced.  As a result, the safety of us all is endangered.  Crime is prevented by giving all people a stake in the health of the community, not by marginalizing offenders to the point where they avoid supervision and have no means of support (emotional as well as financial) other than criminal activity.  In short, the best way to ensure that our prisons remain overcrowded and our communities remain at risk is to treat parolees like animals fit only to eat out of the gutter and sleep on the sidewalk.

I don't expect a lot of popularity for this diary.  The truth is, however, that recognizing the inherent human dignity of and meeting the need for help shared by ex-offenders is both morally correct and rationally required if we wish to optimize the reduction of recidivism.  Ultimately, criminal behavior will be minimized not by the construction of more concrete walls but by repairing the damage that led to the behavior in the first place.

Originally posted to DParker on Sun May 23, 2010 at 01:55 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I really was not aware that the Federal (8+ / 0-)

      Prison System was smaller that the California Prison System. I realize you have to consider the difference between what crimes are Federal and what crimes are State, but still....

      If you are older than 55, never take a sleeping pill and a laxative at the same time!

      by fredlonsdale on Sun May 23, 2010 at 02:23:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Are you a paroled sex offender? My brother was. (18+ / 0-)

      Long story but he was molested as a child and had an incident where he exposed himself to a group of people.  He was arrested and convicted but I think he served no time.  My family hid the facts from me.  Every time there was something that happened in his neighborhood, he was hauled in.  He was arrested and tried for rape but was exonerated by DNA testing.  What a horrific sad life he had.  Had.  He died of lung cancer recently.

      "It would be easier to pay off the national debt overnight than to neutralize the long-range effects of OUR NATIONAL STUPIDITY." Zappa

      by alliedoc on Sun May 23, 2010 at 03:37:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am disturbed by the tone of this diary. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm sure that many acts are prosecuted as 'sex crimes' that should not be. However, you seem to muddle the issue so as to excuse many despicable crimes with these 'lesser offences'.

      I don't care whether someone was themselves molested as a child - that is no excuse for raping a child. There is no excuse for raping a child! If the perpetrator suffers from some underlying disease, than they need to be put somewhere that guarantees they will never rape another child.

      If they enjoy child porn, I have no problem putting them away for 20 years. If those who create the porn are subject to sentences less than life in prison, we need to toughen those laws.

      I agree that some of these laws are poorly written, and should be re-drafted. But I think you are conflating this with a justification for unspeakable crimes which deserve the harshest punishment.

      An 18 year old, who has sex with a 13 year old, has committed statutory rape and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law! WTF is the matter with you that you don't grasp that? And rape is rape, whether or not the woman knew her attacker before it occurred.

      God has no religion. - Gandhi

      by OIL GUY on Sun May 23, 2010 at 05:43:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What about 15-yr-old male & 18-yr-old female? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dejavu, Oh Mary Oh, DParker

        Where the 15-yr-old male is coercing her into sex?  In CA, the 18-yr-old girl would be guilty of statutory rape.  The point is that not all "sex crimes" are equal in severity or in motivation, but all persons convicted of a sex crime are treated the same under most laws.

        Also, the point the diarist made about rape wasn't to minimize the crime of rape; it was to point out that children aren't the target population for many rapists, so laws keeping convicted rapists (after serving their full sentences) from living near schools aren't addressing the problem and can create new problems by making the offender a transient, thus harder to monitor.

        I agree with you on this point:

        An 18 year old, who has sex with a 13 year old, has committed statutory rape and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law!

        However, what happens to that 18-year-old after serving his sentence and the punishment "to the fullest extent of the law" is over?  Where is he allowed to live if there are so many zoning laws that no place is left?  That's what this diary is about.

        A Wall Street "bonus" should not be more than what my house is currently worth.

        by bushondrugs on Sun May 23, 2010 at 06:06:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Heck, could push the offender CLOSER to his/her (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dejavu, bushondrugs, Oh Mary Oh, DParker

          actual targets.

          Someone known to commit offenses against elderly ladies will be limited from living near daycares, preschools, schools, and bus stops... but that section of town where the assisted living communities cluster may be one of the few legal housing areas for sex offenders in the county because of the absence of children...

          Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

          by Cassandra Waites on Sun May 23, 2010 at 06:17:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That is exactly what I am talking about (5+ / 0-)

          I was making two points: (1) labelling the crime doesn't tell us about whether the person committing the crime is redeemable or not.  A person who breaks into a house and rapes a stranger, and a person who has been having sex with his girlfriend on a regular basis, but one night ignores her refusal and rapes her, both commit rape, but the moral culpability of the crimes are different, and the future dangerousness of the perpetrators is different.  Thus, both morality and practicality dictates that they be treated differently. (2) If we are going to let someone convicted of a sexual offense out of custody, then we had better give that person a chance of making it in a law-abiding manner on the outside unless we want to make recidivism a self-fulfilling prophecy.

          We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.

          by DParker on Sun May 23, 2010 at 07:05:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  You're right about the counter-productive and (33+ / 0-)

    unjust nature of lumping in all of them together.  A similar situation exists, in some ways, with pot smokers being lumped in with hard core drug dealers in our punitive, "throw-away" society.

    And the results you mention make it far harder to track the real predators among them, especially when they are living on the streets like that.  It's ridiculous to treat an 18 year old convicted of statutory rape of his 16 yr old girlfriend as you would a repeat offender pedophile (well, aside from the priests let off the hook) or violent serial rapist.  

    Here's hoping this society will acquire some practical and moral subtlety down the road.  Kudos for taking a controversial topic on.

    People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. -- "V for Vendetta"

    by Vtdblue on Sun May 23, 2010 at 02:11:29 PM PDT

  •  Agree w/ conclusion wholly, disagree on (8+ / 0-)

    how you get there.

    The truth is, however, that recognizing the inherent human dignity of and meeting the need for help shared by ex-offenders is both morally correct and rationally required if we wish to optimize the reduction of recidivism.

    If we're talking about, say, child molesters, I don't think they have any dignity that can be violated.  However, they do have constitutional rights.  While courts have held that exile and incarceration beyond the terms of the initial sentence aren't "punishment," those courts are flat-out full of it.

  •  Very uncomfortable topic. (37+ / 0-)

    And I admit I clicked on the diary title thinking "You gotta be kidding me".  But you've treated a very difficult topic in a serious and dignified matter and I'm glad you posted.

  •  By the way, FWIW, you might get more customers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh, DParker, SteelerGrrl

    if you amend the title somewhat -- if even just to insert "(some)" as a modifier.

    People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. -- "V for Vendetta"

    by Vtdblue on Sun May 23, 2010 at 02:13:10 PM PDT

    •  There is nothing (9+ / 0-)

      wrong with defending anybody. All humans deserve defense. The problem you see with it has to do with the engineered changes in social reasoning brought about by the conservative revolution. Those changes involve the way we think about people. It has often been said that we identify people -- we suggest that their entire identity and their entire meaning as human beings -- is taken as their worst (or best) act. Whether it is your worst or best act the defines you is due mainly to luck -- the act that people are able to find out about. For instance, one of the most adored actors in the American motion picture business actually intentionally flashed a woman by opening a coat (which was all he was wearing) when he was in college. He was even arrested for it, but because he was attractive, popular, and simply having fun with a bunch of friends, the charges were not written up as the "sex offense" variety. Under the same circumstances, someone else might be living in a trailer outside a parole office.

      Decades ago the psychological profession (and the medical profession) recognized the problem with identifying people with diseases. Prior to that, there were hemophiliacs (instead of people with hemophilia), schizophrenics (instead of people with schizophrenia disorder), and diabetics (instead of people with diabetes). These professions realized there was a logical error in making people into diseases -- defining them by their weakest characteristic. The problem is that all the negative aspects of that characteristic tend to be attached to the person, and actually referring to the person with the name of the disease promotes that kind of thinking.

      The same goes for "sex offenders" (and, on a larger scale, "criminals"). When does a person convicted of a crime stop being a "criminal"? Have you ever thought of that? Exactly when does it occur, if ever? Martin Luther King was a "criminal". If you have ever been arrested, you are a "criminal". People who smoke pot without legal permission are "criminals". Yet, when we vote, we lap up the rhetoric used by politicians about all the terrible things they are going to do next to "criminals". The reason it works is because somewhere deep in our unconscious processes, we subjectively "pardon" some people and we don't think of them as being in the class who is being oppressed. That "subjective pardon", though, is only in our own minds, and you probably can't define exactly where the "criminal" group ends and "citizen" group begins if asked to. But the government can. For them, anyone ever arrested is "a criminal", and most of the conservatives in our communities would agree (unless they know and love the person).

      Identifying people with an act or a disease promotes faulty logic in reasoning about people and social policy. "Sex offenders" are not a homogeneous population, any more than "criminals". There are very, very important differences between all the different people who might technically fit in that class (including our flashing movie actor). The problem is not so much in the fact that there are differences, though. The problem is that we use this faulty logic to reason about people, as if the people themselves are the category.

      The problem is widespread, and it is one reason the progressive revolution is having trouble getting off the ground. This erroneous thinking about people just hangs on. It pervades. People are now often identified and defined by words that end in "er". That is, "breeders", "smokers", "dopers", "speeders", "tea partyers", "birthers", etc. We won't let go of the temptation to identify and define people by adding "er" to something they do or did at one time or another. This suggests that they actually are whatever that behavior is, and nothing else. That is where the delusion begins, because people are not behaviors or diseases. They are much more complex than that. If you will think about it, it makes no sense, but it is the basis of endless misunderstanding, prejudice, and turmoil in the current system.

      Our social language structure has been poisoned by the conservative revolution, and the underlying problem is so subtle that it is going to be hard to fix. It plays into the hands of conservatives. When we participate in it ourselves, we are doing their bidding.

      Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
      Mark Twain

      by phaktor on Sun May 23, 2010 at 06:12:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bravo! n/t (0+ / 0-)

        We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.

        by DParker on Sun May 23, 2010 at 07:07:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is part of the anti-intellectualization here (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassandra Waites, DParker

        in the US and closely tied to conformity and authoritarianism.  "Name it and you have power over it."  Take away critical thought and reason and simply label everything.  The people don't have to think and can talk, and more importantly listen, in code words.  It also makes it tougher to think certain thoughts because we can't associate the familiar role/personality of someone with behaviors that are inconsistent with their image.  This helps explain how priests have gotten away with raping little children for centuries.

        Free online (PDF) Dr. Robert Altemeyer'sThe Authoritarians, one of the most important books ever written.

        by kbman on Mon May 24, 2010 at 12:09:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The sex offender category (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kbman

          as it currently operates does exactly what you mention about priests in reverse. It takes relatively harmless and relatively innocent people and makes it difficult to think about them as being human, much less consider their better characteristics. After the "sex offender" label is attached, then the person is nothing but the label, and the label makes it difficult to think any good thoughts about them. In many cases, that is a terrible injustice. They are deprived of credit for whatever good they have done in life. Nobody deserves that.

          Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
          Mark Twain

          by phaktor on Mon May 24, 2010 at 02:34:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Points I am largely in agreement with, though (0+ / 0-)

        I do believe that some chronic sex offenders are worthy of such labels.

        People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. -- "V for Vendetta"

        by Vtdblue on Mon May 24, 2010 at 01:04:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There is always (0+ / 0-)

          a range of culpability in any anti-social behavior. This is not to imply that some people who commit sex related crimes are not serious risks and the society should exercise unusual control and laws should be available to ensure it can occur. My comment is not about that. The power and injustice of the indiscriminate category is not related to that problem, but the sense that you have that you have to keep the category for "some" is what keeps the category strong. There are some people of every plausible social category who "deserve" serious response. But the desire to hold on to the category for the sake of the "some" is exactly what is wrong our thinking. The worst of the worst -- the people who are beyond what we can comprehend in terms of moral degeneration, are just that. We don't need to create a special category which only encompasses some of those people and then leaves the door open for overclassification. Some people who commit crimes, whatever the crime is, are very dangerous and the society must protect itself. That is no reason to desire to hang on to the current category thinking, though. Nothing is going to keep you from being able to respond to the worst just because you dismantle the category that snags some who really are not that bad at all. People feel like they have to defend the category, and that is how the phenomenon continues. You can still hate and punish some people who commit sex related crimes if their crimes are commensurate with it. You just don't need a special pile-on "sex offender" category that also encourages people to include those it wasn't intended for. You can get what you want without casting the net.

          Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
          Mark Twain

          by phaktor on Mon May 24, 2010 at 02:21:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Again, as I noted in my original comment, I'm (0+ / 0-)

            largely in agreement.  But labeling is not as useless as you intimate.  It's just important to avoid overclassification that lumps in minor (or even bullshit) offenses with the serious, big league serial offenders.

            People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. -- "V for Vendetta"

            by Vtdblue on Mon May 24, 2010 at 10:35:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The problems with making (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DParker

              a special category of this type are evident in something you said here. There is nothing in most laws, nor in most people's subjective criteria for the classification of "sex offender", which requires serial offending. Serial offending is evidently something that is important to you -- something you see as causing the categorical hammer to fall. Authoritarians can elicit the large scale automatic response to the category even though different people have different (and largely incorrect) beliefs about the inclusion criteria. Most people still react as if they are clear on who is hated, and they assume they share the same beliefs with everyone else. The problem is they are not clear. They may be clear on who is in the group they hate, but they often overestimate the extent to which they share those beliefs with others.

              The reason it works so well with sex is because communication about sex is limited and controlled by culture. We don't discuss the details of sex as easily and openly as we discuss other matters. It is thus easy to have tremendous diversity in beliefs without having much public argument or discussion, or even much awareness of how very different we are form the people all around us. People simply don't do much in the way of comparing notes. Putting the response above and before the inclusion criteria is what makes this whole mad system run. The category label elicits unconditional and unlimited prejudice, while leaving the inclusion criteria vague. That is how we got here. That is why it took 20 years of this madness before anyone even began questioning whether or not it was a good idea. Everyone thought the people in the category were the ones they thought should be there. That is what conservatives love, because it is the stuff fascism is made of. It fosters the "shoot first and ask questions later" approach to social problems. Nobody really knows what the label means, but everybody is willing to pile on those who are labeled. It leaves people free to fill in the details from their own imagination.

              Of course, there are other things that have helped the madness along. One is the claim that critically evaluating the issue is tantamount to "supporting child rape". The other is the confusion of the issue with feminism, making it appear that it is a category on which liberals and conservatives agree. They do agree -- it is just that they have different inclusion criteria and the differences are not widely discussed or examined.

              Politicians get away with using the category without having to explain whether it is the liberals' version of "sex offender" or the conservatives' version of "sex offender" they are going after. The underlying metaphor for the liberal version is the older unattractive male approaching younger attractive people (e.g. creepy), while the conservative metaphor is simply nontraditional sexual activity which violates traditional religious rules (including gay sex and other things which don't fit their rules).

              We don't need a special vague category to respond to someone who sits in a park and rapes and kills a child who is playing there. It is rape and murder, and the victim is a child. There are plenty of laws to take care of that. The same goes for those who molest children (such as the currently popular priest thing). These are offenses which can easily be addressed through legislation without creating a catch-all category.

              In summary, it is the category which enables all this. There is limited communication and vast differences in beliefs about who belongs in the category, yet the category still elicits unconditional support from everyone. Nobody bothers to check the details. They literally shoot first and ask later. What a field day for the heat!

              Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
              Mark Twain

              by phaktor on Tue May 25, 2010 at 11:35:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Don't know if it's true (22+ / 0-)

    But I have heard that in some cases, people have been tagged as "sex offenders" for public urination.

    Definitely something like a permanent registry that ends up functioning like a scarlet letter does more harm than good in many cases.  Not much point in releasing someone from prison if they're going to end hounded from place to place for their yellow passports like Jean Valjean.

    Help build the Progressive Governing Majority at Open Left

    by Scientician on Sun May 23, 2010 at 02:20:09 PM PDT

  •  Don't forget the panderer in chief (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, marina, neroden, El barragas, kyril, DParker

    June 2008

    Because you know Obama'a all about states rights, at least when it comes to executing child rapists.

  •  This is something not often considered... (23+ / 0-)

    that, in many places, a "sex offense" can be as dumb as urinating in a public place. There's definitely a matter of degrees to consider here. Most people don't bother to see what the actual offense was. They just blindly lump it all together. The definition of "sex offense" needs to be re-thought. Mooning someone is not a danger to society, yet it is considered to be a "sex offense." Stupid and harmful.

    As to rehabilitation, I know it can happen. I know someone who was convicted and incarcerated on a molestation charge. He served his time, with counseling for the entire sentence. He was released to a half-way house afterward and has now been re-integrated into society. He is a gifted artist who now must avoid Ren Faires and the like (where his sculpture really sells well) and he accepts that.

    The recidivism rate may be high for sex offenders (the real ones) but it is not 0%. But if policies like this are to become the norm, it very well may become that high. This doesn't help anyone except those who seek only revenge. While that's understandable, it is not sensible. Or helpful.

    A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.

    by Purple Priestess on Sun May 23, 2010 at 02:23:59 PM PDT

  •  Good points. There is an Oregon ballot measure (17+ / 0-)

    they are currently collecting sigs for that increases penalties for sex offenders.  I guess kicking hippies isn't as popular anymore so they need another target for their macho act and demonization.

    There was also a case a few years ago here where an ambitious asshole prosecutor was trying to convict a couple of eighth grade boys as sex offenders for getting caught taking part in a game the kids in their school had been playing where they would run up from behind and slap other kids on the butt.  Several boys and girls had all been involved in both slapping and being slapped, but when a teacher caught these two, suddenly they're sex offenders.

    The problem is distinguishing between those who have sick and anti-social sexual depravities, and those who have healthy sexual interests which are deemed outside acceptable bounds by prudish people.  You mentioned a hypothetical 18 yo and 13 yo.  There was actually a conviction, I believe in North Carolina, of a young man for receiving oral sex from his girlfriend who was just a few years younger.  It seems that being black was his first mistake.  

    Yes, dealing with true sexual deviants is important to protect our society, but we need to be damn careful with that label and we also need to be humane in how those with these issues are punished and rehabilitated.

    Free online (PDF) Dr. Robert Altemeyer'sThe Authoritarians, one of the most important books ever written.

    by kbman on Sun May 23, 2010 at 02:24:55 PM PDT

  •  The laws need to be more specific (15+ / 0-)

    The way to control this situation is to write laws that recognize the difference between sex offenders that are definitely dangerous to society and other sex offenders that most likely are not.

    I know a woman who's 20 year old son served a 10 year sentence in prison because he was 5 years older than his girlfriend. When they met, she was 15 and he was 20. More than 4 years difference is considered a criminal offense when one of the parties is under age 18.

    10 years behind bars for a 20 year old that had a 15 year old girlfriend.

    So, yeah, I understand there is a difference. The law needs to recognize all the differences and punish accordingly. That will resolve the issue.

  •  I work in the CJ system (19+ / 0-)

    and agree wholeheartedly with what you say. A man who rapes and adult woman is just as disgusted with pedophiles as any law abiding citizen. Barring them from coming within 1000 yards (or any distance) of a school makes no sense, they are not going to attack a child. The 'no drugs in a school zone' laws, to point to another example, merely serve to tell customers where to find them.

    I know a Probation Officer in my state who took custody of a 60 year old Hispanic man who had diddled his 4 year old granddaughter. Without commenting upon the heinousness of the crime, he was diabetic and lost his legs while in prison. Because he was a pedophile and sex offender (at least in my state we do some dichotomizing based on the nature of the offense), he couldn't get placed in a nursing home, where he belonged, and of course his family didn't want him back. At the end of his sentence, the Dept of Corrections dropped him off at a hospital ER because his condition was life threatening. And there he stayed, for well over a year, behind a temporary curtain, with the nursing staff dealing with his condition on a daily basis. Who paid for that? Clearly, the guy was not a threat but he couldn't get adequate housing because of his record.

    And now the Supreme Court has ruled that Federal CJ systems can hold a dangerous sex offender beyond his sentence. I don't know if that's the answer, it seems to be unconstitutional to me, but I'm no Supreme Court Justice.

    But it is a big problem. I know of a rooming house in a big city nearby that houses sex offenders. There are 4 or 5 their - registered and everyone who lives there knows who they are. They go to work, come back, keep to themselves. The rooming house does not allow children to live there, but if anyone tries to sneak any in, the SOs are quick to rat them out - after all, if their Parole or Probation Officers find out there's kids there, then back they all go to jail. They have a good thing going on, they know they are lucky. My 35 year old daughter - not a sex offender - had to live there for a few months a while back.

    picking off right-wingnuts at the ballot box, one vote at a time

    by JohnMac on Sun May 23, 2010 at 02:29:00 PM PDT

  •  thanks for this diary (12+ / 0-)

    it is important to note the distinction among the various crimes labelled as sex offenses.  

    A point in every direction is the same as no point at all.

    by oblios arrow on Sun May 23, 2010 at 02:48:31 PM PDT

  •  Includes child pornography (14+ / 0-)

    Article in the NYT:

    Defiant Judge Takes On Child Pornography Law

    [snip]
    Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated a 20-year child pornography sentence  by ruling that the sentencing guidelines for such cases, "unless applied with great care, can lead to unreasonable sentences." The decision noted that the recommended sentences for looking at pictures of children being sexually abused sometimes eclipse those for actually sexually abusing a child.

    Possession of child pornography is listed as a "Tier I" sex offense, requiring 15 years registration as a sex offender.

    As the article notes:

    "What has caused concern in courts across the nation is that we have a lot of relatively law-abiding individuals sitting in the basement downloading the wrong kind of dirty pictures facing not just prison sentences but incredibly long prison sentences," said Douglas A. Berman, a professor at Moritz College of Law of Ohio State University, who studies sentencing issues.

    One of my pet peeves is laws that are grossly disproportionate. For instance, possession of "snuff films" is not classified as a form of murder. And as the Supreme Court ruled, it is not illegal to possess depictions of animal cruelty.

    Or how about government officials who authorize the use of torture? Are they made to be homeless? How about banksters who wreck the world economy? Not so much as a slap on the wrist.

    I am surprised that the punishment for sex offenders AFTER they have served time hasn't been challenged as a violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment."

  •  In California, at least (18+ / 0-)

    the definition is overly broad, and if the new bill is passed, that will only get worse.

    I have worked in the criminal justice system for over 25 years, and have seen some crimes that were so horrendous they challenged my dislike of the death penalty.  I have also seen people classified as "Sex Criminals" because of public urination, mooning, consensual sex with other adults, and having porn visible to children (who had searched actively through locked cabinets for it).

    Until and unless distinctions are made between all of the various types and severities of sex crimes, I'm gonna stand opposed to well-meaning but brainless laws to stop things that almost never really apply.

    My life is an open book, and I want a rewrite!

    by trumpeter on Sun May 23, 2010 at 02:54:57 PM PDT

  •  It is ridiculous not to let the offender (9+ / 0-)

    live near their family.  Families need to be considered in all of it.  

    Remember the old guy who told the prison not to release him because he would do it again?  They let him out and he stole a young girl out of her home and kept her in a trailor next door, finally killing her.  They need to listen to the prisoners.

    Violent sex offenders should be kept in prisons longer than the others.  There needs to be clear cut definitions of what is considered violence.  I don't know what the figures are on how many children are violently molested and killed each year.  I have heard there are not a lot of them.

    I have heard that it is considered 'kidnapping' to take a child from one room to another, but don't know if that is true.

    We should all be careful with our children.  The man next door may not be on the offender's list, but he may be a sexual predator who hasn't been caught yet.  

    We didn't say Wealth Care, we said Health Care

    by relentless on Sun May 23, 2010 at 03:01:37 PM PDT

  •  And thanks very much... (20+ / 0-)

    for having the cajones to write this diary. It's a very difficult subject to discuss and you did a fine job of presenting it. Hope it makes it to the rec list so others can have an opportunity to think about it!

    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

    by reflectionsv37 on Sun May 23, 2010 at 03:14:57 PM PDT

  •  Unintended consequences: McMartin Preschool (11+ / 0-)

    There are a lot of things that happened in this country when due awareness of sex offenders went crazy.

    I recall when the McMartin Preschool case flew out of all proportion. No one was convicted.

    But you know who WAS convicted? Male teachers. Suddenly the number of male teachers dropped like an anvil. The NEA reports that the percentage of male teachers is at a 40-year low. I remember being a volunteer with my girlfriend at church to watch over kindergartners during services. I got out of that real quick.

    One of the problems when society over-reacts to things is that stupid shit happens. Like a lot of children having fewer or no male role models. Or the stuff that the diarist has pointed out.

    •  That explains something. (9+ / 0-)

      Other than middle school gym teachers and band directors, the schools I went to for elementary and middle school in the early '90s had one male teacher and one day that we had a male substitute teacher. That was it.

      And then suddenly in high school we all had to somehow deal with at worst a 75% female 25% male disparity in teacher ratios, after not having had male teachers at all outside gym unless we were in band or had that one teacher in one grade in middle school for under an hour a day.

      Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

      by Cassandra Waites on Sun May 23, 2010 at 03:32:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I remember part of this (11+ / 0-)

      I was in jr. high attending a fundie Baptist school in the early '80's as well as church and youth meetings 3-5 days/nights a week.  Throughout that era, the fundies saw satanic rituals EVERYWHERE.  It was crazy.  At the school, one of our bible study classes spent at least a half dozen lectures teaching us to 'identify' the satanic messages in liquor, cigarette and movie ads.  Those jackasses and their OH-MY-GOD-SATAN-IS-EVERYWHERE delusions contributed to the zeitgeist that set the stage for something like the McMartin pre-school mess.  Because those religious f***tards were so busy motivating people and authorities to expend energy chasing wild geese God knows how many genuinely harmful people were allowed to keep doing whatever.

      I know at that same school, one of the biggest authoritarian, OH-MY-GOD-SATAN-IS-EVERYWHERE teacher, pastor and, briefly, principal, was quietly let go for being a little to friendly and hands-on with grade school age boys.

  •  Trouble with the strict zoning laws is that (8+ / 0-)

    if any person who was once convicted of a sex offense has no viable place to live, the only choices left are those that put more people at risk, including the sex offender.  

    Some live in mobile homes parked along the street, and some are homeless and live on the street, neither of which can be tracked or tied to a permanent address.  Some are forced to lie, in order to have housing, which put them in jeopardy of future arrest.

    I strongly believe that (1) counties should be required to provide multiple options for affordable housing for released offenders that satisfy the zoning laws (i.e., provide a map or a list of acceptable addresses), and (2) released offenders should have the right to request permission to move to a different county if they want to for reasons of employment, family connection, etc., with approval granted by a judge who has reviewed the circumstances of the original sex offense.

    A Wall Street "bonus" should not be more than what my house is currently worth.

    by bushondrugs on Sun May 23, 2010 at 03:33:36 PM PDT

  •  If i saw a lost child in a public place (10+ / 0-)

    I'll be damned if I'd be the one to approach the child.  Too risky!

    •  Mmm. I never thought of it that way. When I see (7+ / 0-)

      a lost or confused child I act immediately.  I'm not the problem, but the person that might act in my stead could be.

      When the kids across the street used to come over when they were young, I made them go home to go potty.  I was scared to death that something might be misinterpreted.

      So they'd run home, go potty, then come back.  I loved having them visit (they were a kick!), but was careful about not only what we did, but where and why.

      One would come over to "get cheese" (!).  For some reason, apparently our cheese was better than the cheese in his fridge, then he'd play with the dogs and finally go home.  I taught him piano for a few years, as well.  Usually, I made the parents come with the kids during the lesson which made things much better for everyone.

      Sad that we have to think this way, but I do understand.

      866-338-1015 toll-free to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

      by cany on Sun May 23, 2010 at 03:42:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Consentual? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KathleenM1, OIL GUY, rb137

    consensual sexual relations between a 13 year-old and her 18 year-old boyfriend

    Are you for real?  

    •  just because there is no legal consent, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh, DParker, IndieGuy

      doesn't mean there is no consent. while i may not find such a situation to be moral or even desire such a situation to be legal, i can reconize the difference of consent or force being involved.

      and your post demonstrates why this diary needed to be made, cause it is not good to lump all sexual offences together, including ones that, we find immoral and agree with their illegality, should be reconized individually.

      "Progress is possible. Don't give up on voting. Don't give up on activism. There are too many needs to be met, too much work to be done." - Barack Obama

      by eaglekid85va on Sun May 23, 2010 at 04:39:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Excuse me, having sex with a minor is a crime (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KathleenM1

        I'm not quite sure what you're getting at, but I do believe it is a loser.  

        •  Okay, how about this... (5+ / 0-)

          Two 17 year olds have been having sex for months, both of whom are consenting to the activity. They have sex on Saturday night, then celebrate one of the pairs birthday by having sex on Sunday night. Although only 24 hours have passed, the now 18 year old is guilty of "having sex with a minor", though, the evening before, it was no crime. If the still 17 year old's parents so desired, they could have the now 18 year old arrested and charged with "statutory rape", and, if convicted, the 18 year old would be labeled a "sex offender" and be required to register as such for the rest of his/her life. How is that right?

          "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi -9.38/-6.26

          by LynneK on Sun May 23, 2010 at 06:01:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You questioned (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DParker

          if the given situation(an 18 year old having consensual sex with a 13 year old) was really consensual. and i was pointing out, that it is consensual, even though it is not legally consensual.

          such a situation would be a crime in most places, however there is a difference between when things are consensual(legal or not) and when things are forced.

          i pointed out that we should not lump sex offences together, even if we agree that certain acts should be illegal, we must look at these acts individually.

          "Progress is possible. Don't give up on voting. Don't give up on activism. There are too many needs to be met, too much work to be done." - Barack Obama

          by eaglekid85va on Sun May 23, 2010 at 06:39:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Also, i would like to point out that, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marina, DParker, Trotskyrepublican

          your statement

          having sex with a minor is a crime

          may not always be true.

          the definition of a minor can vary from country to country. in most, if not all, of the United States, a minor is below the age of 18, but most states have an age of consent of 16.

          some states have close in age exceptions, some don't. some states have ignorance of age exceptions, some don't.

          general statements can be incorrect and general laws can be ridiculous.

          "Progress is possible. Don't give up on voting. Don't give up on activism. There are too many needs to be met, too much work to be done." - Barack Obama

          by eaglekid85va on Sun May 23, 2010 at 06:52:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, I didn't know the pope was a member (0+ / 0-)

    of this site.

    (hey, don't bite my head off, I'm just joking!).

  •  Tipped and Rec'd (8+ / 0-)

    This must have been an incredibly difficult diary to write. But there's a lot to think about here. Our criminal justice system has gone crazy, prosecuting kids for sending sexy pics of themselves to each other.

    There needs to be a careful examination of how we distinguish dangerous sexual predators from consensual relationships that test age limitations. It's a tough subject and we seem to erred on the side of stupidity.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Sun May 23, 2010 at 04:21:38 PM PDT

  •  I have little sympathy for (5+ / 0-)

    those who prey on kids, but you bring up a much broader spectrum of possible sex crimes, and that does need to be addressed.  There needs to be some way to deal with those who will inevitably be released into the communities.  Originally, they couldn't live within a certain distance from a school or park.  The next time someone needed a campaign boost, the distance was enlarged and includes churches and ice cream shops (or something equally inane).  In most communities, if the distance is sufficient (but not really all that large, say 2,000 feet), there is literally nowhere for them to go, even though they are bound by the conditions of their parole to remain in a geographic area.  That's not right.  This is just one more way in which our system is screwed up.  Gets to be pretty disheartening. :-(

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sun May 23, 2010 at 04:26:02 PM PDT

  •  The economist did a cover story on this issue (9+ / 0-)

    Back in Aug 09. Unfortunately the article requires a print subscription to access fully, but it is there. And the editorial staff of the economist, not exactly known for being a 'liberal' journal, came to the same conclusions you did: That the system was grossly unfair, did nothing to protect the safety of the public or its children, and was unlikely to change because any politician can get votes by ratcheting the system up still further, but would likely be hounded out of office while ratcheting them down
      What was also interesting about the article were some of the write-in comments, basically from some that had known people who were really guilty of 'situational stupidity' and nothing more, but who were tarred with the same brush and lumped in with some truly disgusting people.
      I wrote a diary recently about what a wonderful experience spending time in jail is these days, and one of my conclusions was also relevant here: it is not the nature of the crime that will determine how much the criminal justice system will make you suffer; it is who you are, and how much money you have, and how much legal defense you can get on your behalf. If some of these people had had really competent legal help, they probably would have been let off, but since they didn't they get to be in a sex offender registry; and we haven't even touched the issue about making such info public knowledge and easily accessable, and basically inviting vigilante justice.
      If the true measure of how 'christian' we are as a society in how we treat the poor, the sick, the vulnerable and - yes - the despised, we fall short yet again.

    Hurt people hurt people -Greenberg

    by MichiganChet on Sun May 23, 2010 at 05:25:30 PM PDT

  •  The problem starts at home (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina

    I believe the problem starts at home.

    1. the latest WOW cell phone. Getting kids or allowing kids (under 18) to buy the latest features on their cell phones. Kids don't need Text Messaging (interrupts class / school work, driving a motor vehicle, etc.). If you kid insists on Text Messaging a firm NO and lack of cell phone quickly changes their mind. Limited text messaging works wonders as well.. put a limit on the contract for a total of 50 texts a month. Make sure the phone has no picture capability, this eliminates sexting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a phone that only allows Voice calls and Voice Mail. Parents need to be pro-active in this reguard. Internet allows for access to Adult material on a cell phone, so Internet is not a necessity, it is another feature that would allow a child to access adult content, as such a feature a kid under 18 does not need. It isn't morally responsible for your kid to sext themselves to someone else only to have their picture passed around all over Europe and Asia (including USSSR) that injoy Lolita Pornography, especially if the boy she is sexting to has no sexual morality of his own. This needs to be taught to kids. Same goes for acess to sending pictures via Email.. Make sure the PC is set up with a filter to allow you to check attachments (especailly photos) before allowing the email to be sent. Kids will use Digital Cameras or Vid Cams to send pics to a friends phone.. what if those photos are nudes to themselves. Do you want the cops taking your kid away?
    1. Home Sex Education.. Kids need to be taught right and wrong. It isn't inherent as some people think. As such, Teaching a child what is right and wrong from a young age (8/9 years old) about sex, sexuality, and morality about sex is a necessity in people's homes. Don't just let the Public School system teach your kids Sex Education.. unless you want your kids sexual exploits to be a public affair (Gossip and Physically). Parents need to be serious about their child's education and let them know all the dangers that there are in the world and teach their kids, and periodically review with their kids to make sure they have a good understanding about sexuality and morality with sex.Parents need to be diligent about sex, sexuality and morality pertaining to sex with their kids education. If you impart the morality and education starting ar a young age, then those lessons will take root and sprout and when they get into a situation of peer pressure or begging or manipulation, your child can recognize it and shoot it down at the very beginning instead of caving in.

    I'm just saying, it all starts at home and how people teach their kids.. Sex is usually a taboo subject in most homes, and a lack of education gets kids in to trouble... Just check out all the sex offenders who are underaged currently.. mainly this comes from not educating kids or preventing them from having access to technology that could wind them up in trouble or both.

    •  I wouldn't include quite the texting restriction. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bushondrugs, DParker

      It depends on the teen and the needs of the family.

      When I got my cell phone, my parents (who were paying and therefore had a voice in it despite my being an adult) were rather adamant about me not texting much if at all.

      And then it came out that my boyfriend can't understand me during cell phone voice calls. The actual and implied texting limitations went away.

      Texting isn't a disruption to school, work, or driving if the rule is No Phone or Phone Silent And Put Away during those activities, which is the safer option anyway.

      The most embarrassing cell phone moment I ever saw was when a classmate was called by his mother ten minutes before school ended. Since it was apparently a family-only phone, he'd thought it was safe on and not silented at school until the day the school clock was slower than his mother's watch and she decided to call and ask how his day had been (when he would have been driving home, btw).

      ...

      I still don't get why camera phones have become so standard. Phones without them can go places phones with cameras can't.

      Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

      by Cassandra Waites on Sun May 23, 2010 at 06:10:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wouldn't restrict texting that much, either. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassandra Waites, Oh Mary Oh, DParker

        Texting isn't inherently better or worse than other forms of communication.  I find that texting is far less disruptive to my kids than phone calls.  My kids spend far less time texting on their cell phones than my friends and I spent on the land-line telephone back in the 1970s.

        A Wall Street "bonus" should not be more than what my house is currently worth.

        by bushondrugs on Sun May 23, 2010 at 06:33:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem I see with Texting and kids (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bushondrugs

          is that texting is silent.. that means that they could be discussing things that they shouldn't be. My 13 year old son got texted by a 14 year old girl from Public School (my kid is now home schooled) with a text that would make Larry Flynt (Hussler Magazine) blush with shame. She said she was carrying on the conversation in her moms car while her mom was driving and since it is text, her mom never knew (at least not until I had a talk with her mom). My son did good, he notified me as soon as the first text came in.. that is when I took his phone and changed his service plan to limit text messages.

          The girl's mom wasn't too happy with what she was doing to say the least. And sitting right next to her.

          The limit to having a cell phone text messages helps prevent those "private intimate" conversations that parent's don't know about. a Kid is less likely to speak those things alout for fear of getting caught.. I'm not stating it doesn't happen with Voice or Voice Mail, but far less likely to happen than with Text Messaging.

          Voice and Voice Mail is just fine for kids under 18.. Limited text is OK but not a necessity..

          Remember the reason you got or let your kids to have a cell phone is for an emergency to call you or 911.. not to play tag with their boyfriend / girlfriend.

          •  Some teens converse when parents aren't around. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites, Oh Mary Oh, DParker

            Back in the pre-texing days, I had conversations with my friends that we wouldn't have had if we knew adults could hear us.  We also passed notes in class.

            I wouldn't say that kids are less likely to have inappropriate conversations with Voice vs. Text; they just save those conversations for times when adults aren't around to listen.

            A Wall Street "bonus" should not be more than what my house is currently worth.

            by bushondrugs on Sun May 23, 2010 at 07:08:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  one of the things people so often overlook (6+ / 0-)

    is the difference between people who commit sex crimes and those who are predators.

    those 2 guys who were caught going at it in the bushes in the park are probably not going to eye your 8 year old with lust in their eyes if one of them moves into the house down the streets.

    nor will that kid who turned 18 when he was dating a 16 year old girl.  or that homeless guy who ended up romantically involved with a 14 year old runaway.

    but these people also have to register as sex offenders and as such are subject to the same regulations as those individuals who want to and do have sex with children.

    that is really the problem with most of these sex offender laws is that too often, those who just made mistakes or were victims of circumstance (such as the kid who was dating as 16 year old girl and turned 18 while doing so) and that they are lumped in with truly dangerous, predatory types is totally inhumane.

  •  Registerable Crimes in CA -- Megan's Law (list) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Oh Mary Oh, DParker

    Registerable Sexual Offenses

    Among the items on the list are the following:

    311.3(B)(6) SEXUALLY EXPLOIT MINOR: DEFECATE, URINATE FOR VIEWER STIMULATION
    314.2 ASSIST ACT OF INDECENT EXPOSURE
    311.2(D) DISTRIBUTE OBSCENE MATTER OF MINOR TO MINOR
    288.2(A) HARMFUL MATTER: SENT WITH INTENT OF SEDUCTION OF MINOR VIA PHONE

    On the same list as:

    187 MURDER DURING PERPETRATION/ATTEMPT RAPE
    261(3) RAPE OF DRUGGED VICTIM
    267 ABDUCT MINOR FOR PROSTITUTION

    A Wall Street "bonus" should not be more than what my house is currently worth.

    by bushondrugs on Sun May 23, 2010 at 06:48:52 PM PDT

  •  In defense of sex offenders.... (5+ / 0-)

    ...I think we should sentence them straight-up in accordance with what we think is the severity of what they've done.  When that sentence is over, they should be done.  I don't agree with kicking the can down the road with extrajudicial restrictions.

    This machine makes fascists feel bad. (Meteor Blades-approved version)

    by Rich in PA on Sun May 23, 2010 at 07:04:25 PM PDT

    •  There's at least one case I've heard of where (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk, Oh Mary Oh, DParker

      someone committed suicide due to a restriction expansion.

      He'd pleaded guilty to a lesser charge so he wouldn't end up on the registry, knowing that pleading innocence was likely to put him on it.

      Then the state legislature passed a law that put him on the registry.

      And there's no taking back a plea bargain years after the fact because the thing you were promised the plea would save you from happened anyway...

      Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

      by Cassandra Waites on Sun May 23, 2010 at 07:12:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The problem arises in the disparity in charges (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, Oh Mary Oh, DParker

      my neighbor faced 15 year sentence versus plead guilty and no jail w/lifetime registration.BTW I never asked what the circumstances were. Something associated with his divorce.

  •  Not a popular topic (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites, Oh Mary Oh, DParker

    but thank you for addressing it.  There are, after all, sex offenders who have been married happily and without incident to their "victims" for many years, and never caused anyone trouble.  There are also individuals guilty of heinous crimes against others.  The laws stigmatize them all indiscriminately, ultimately doing injustice to everyone.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sun May 23, 2010 at 08:16:53 PM PDT

    •  It's the (4+ / 0-)

      indiscriminate category that that led to the mania. That's why this is all so powerful and lasting. Conservatives in the late 70s and early 80s wanted something to get the public on board with authoritarianism and they wanted to put an end to questioning of police authority. They found the magic in the idea of the "sex offender". Once they established a category that they could be sure that everyone would reflexively hate and never defend, then they started testing the Constitutional waters to see if we couldn't go ahead and do away with rights for these people. Then, they went to work expanding it to lesser and lesser offenses. Today, the laws built on the emotional energy of the public's revolt toward serial child murderers has been turned on the drunk urinating in public, the "sexting" teen, and the Romeo and Juliet lovers. But that doesn't matter. That is what they wanted -- a category where no rules applied and severe and irrational hatred and punishment ruled. They got it. It worked. Once they got us started thinking that way, then they slowly began to expand it to the model for all criminal justice.

      Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
      Mark Twain

      by phaktor on Sun May 23, 2010 at 08:32:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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