Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sex Offender Registry Revisited

I was recently viewing a great web site called and used one of its features which allows you to see all of the registered sex offenders in a given area. I actually found one in my townhouse complex, which was startling since you have to have a clean record and a criminal background check to live here! It turns out this guy was not on the lease, but had moved in with his girlfriend. They have all sorts of rules for convicted sex offenders, at least in South Carolina. I was told that they are not allowed to live in apartment complexes and have to introduce themselves and state that they are registered sex offenders with their neighbors.

This guy was convicted ten years ago of distributing obscene materials to a minor (16 years old). That got me wondering. Did he give a Playboy magazine to his son and his ex-wife had him arrested? Did he get drunk and text a picture of his junk to his kids' babysitter? Its a pretty vague charge to have following you around the rest of your life. Why is sex still so taboo in our society? If you are convicted of a sex crime, you don't serve your time and get a fresh start, like a murderer, thief, or manslaughter committing drunk driver. Why is that? Of course nobody likes a pedophile or anyone who preys on children. Is "Once a pedophile always a pedophile" true? Why are they released into society with the handicap of the Registered Sex Offender label following them through every aspect of their lives if they are rehabilitated? Why are they released into society at all if they are not?

Not all convicted sex offenders are predators. I know of a body piercer who worked in the Myrtle Beach area and pierced a sixteen year old boy's nipples when his father brought him in and signed for him to have it done. The boy's parents were going through an ugly divorce and the mother called the police and had the piercer arrested for performing a lewd act on a minor. He is now, and will always be, a convicted sex offender! Where is the justice there?

These laws remind me of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. I think they need to be reevaluated without the religious puritanism and piousness that they were formed around in a different time. Let the punishment fit the crime.

This strikes me as having similar problems to the War On Drugs which, in South Carolina, will suspend a person's drivers license for simple possession of marijuana even if they weren't driving a car or in a car when they were busted. Another great way to wreck someone's marriage, reputation, and livelihood that has the potential to be vastly excessive.

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