Funny How That Works

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

After years of zoning sex offenders out of just about every part of public life, activists are now alarmed that the offenders are “clustering” in the few areas they’re still legally permitted to exist.

“It is not where they aren’t living that is the problem, it is where they are,” says Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “If you put these guys together it will lead to a higher incidence of sex abuse as they talk about this stuff. I see it as a dangerous trend.”

Maybe we should just shoot them.

Look, I have no sympathy for child rapists. Or regular rapists, for that matter. But this is insane. If you don’t want these people getting out of prison, change the sentencing laws. But don’t let them out, then zone them out of civilization to the point where they’re forced to  live under bridges, then complain that they’re congregating under bridges.

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84 Responses to “Funny How That Works”

  1. #1 |  Nipplemancer | 

    i still don’t understand how any of these restrictions are constitutional. i do have sympathy for these people because they have served their sentences. they zone them out of housing and then arrest them for violating whatever the local version of megan’s law is for not reporting their whereabouts.
    is it not double jeopardy to punish them further after serving their time?

  2. #2 |  Steve Verdon | 

    After all these years people still don’t quite understand the law of unintended consequences…or give the topic here…perverse incentives.

  3. #3 |  BamBam | 

    The bigger issue should be “they served their sentence, so they should not be punished after the fact with zoning/tracking/etc.” Make the sentences longer if the punishment/revenge must continue, but punishment after sentence is served is wrong, no matter what the crime may be.

  4. #4 |  InMD | 

    It gets even more absurd when you see how many people actually qualify as a “sex offender” these days. I don’t know how many here read the Economist (I know Radley posted the article a few weeks ago as) but they had an article discussing the many registered sex offenders who did nothing more than pick up a prostitute or have consensual sex as a teenager with another teenager. Many of the people being punished with these kind of rules don’t even come close to being threats to the community nor do they deserve pariah status.

  5. #5 |  Steamed McQueen | 

    After all these years people still don’t quite understand the law of unintended consequences

    Maybe. Or perhaps the goal all along was to get the offenders out of the area, the ‘area’ in some cases being outside the state.

    By making it impossible to legally congregate anywhere, a released sex offender has but two choices… move to a less restrictive area or risk arrest and return to prison.

    It’s not unintended. That was probably the plan all along, they just couldn’t legally come out and say that.

  6. #6 |  JS | 

    I read a story last year about a guy that got caught urinating in a wooded area of a park in the early morning hours when he was out jogging and they now classify him as a sex offender. This country has gone completely stark raving insane.

  7. #7 |  Tokin42 | 

    If you don’t want these people getting out of prison, change the sentencing laws.

    I remember a case out west a decade or so ago where the repeat offender was about to get out of prison again and the state was trying to put him in some kind of mental institution after his time had been served. I came to the same conclusion as Radley, if you think the guy committed a heinous sex crime then change the laws and keep his ass in prison but to try to continually punish someone after they’ve been released just feels wrong.

  8. #8 |  Marty | 

    the puritans are taking over- the burnings will commence shortly!

    the sex offenders list is absurd. the felony drug convictions are absurd. try renting a house, finding a job, or, just walking around not feeling like an outcast, if you have one of these bullshit convictions on your record. Hell, people around here can’t even live in a trailer park. We have rental properties and probably half of the renters have some bullshit conviction from when they were kids that limit their choices (we like this problem!). As a society, we’re driving all of these people underground. The illegal Mexicans have perfected living as ‘undocumented’ and these kids with these convictions are learning from them. ‘Undocumented’ looks like ‘freedom’ to me sometimes.

  9. #9 |  Mattocracy | 

    The conspiracy is to criminalize normal behavior for teenagers so they get their rights taken away before they have the chance to even exercise them as adults. That’s how you control the populace.

    It’s sad that we have regressed to this tyrannical Spanish Inquisition style of war on normal sexual behavior. It’s just absolutely crazy how normal sexual activity for adults is criminal for teenagers. And all the assholes in congress and the DA’s office are ok with this. WTF? How did we American citizens allow the resurrection of this archaic and evil approach to sexual behavior? Consensual sex is rape and pissing in public is child rape. It has to be a conspiracy. That the only answer to the maddening state of our nation.

  10. #10 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    Radley’s article suggests that “activists” are responsible for distance-marker laws.
    To the contrary, Ernie Allen, head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, quoted in the article, has long been a zoning-law skeptic.
    Other victim advocates have taken similar positions. I think they would, as a group, tend to agree with Radley’s final paragraph.
    The backers of zoning laws tend to be “tough on crime” state legislators who don’t really care about solving the problem.

  11. #11 |  Andrew S. | 

    From the article…

    Levenson didn’t name the area, but Broward County has become famous for its inability to find homes for released offenders. Instead it houses them under a bridge on the Julia Tuttle Causeway. The only other location, according to local newspaper reports, is a swampy, isolated trailer park on the far west of the county.

    The Julia Tuttle “camp” is in Dade County, not Broward County. The Broward County “cluster” is in a trailer park on the eastern side of the county. And yes, there’s been complaints about that cluster.

    A Broward County commissioner is trying to get a county-wide law passed that would make sex offenders not live within 2500 feet of… well, you know the law. The Commission decided to order a study to show what the effect of that law would be. The study concluded that the law would have a negative effect on childrens’ safety as a whole, since it would promote homelessness and make sex offenders harder to track. His response to this study was that the study wasn’t valid in his mind, since it looked at it from the perspective of helping sex offenders and not protecting the community.

  12. #12 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Look, I have no sympathy for child rapists. Or regular rapists, for that matter.

    I have no sympathy for rapists or murderers or muggers or cops who assault citizens, but I’m a big fan of the idea that once someone has served his time, he should once again have the chance at a somewhat normal life.

    The belief that we’re doing society a favor by letting these guys out of prison and then making the rest of their lives a living hell is an indicator of a single digit IQ.

  13. #13 |  JS | 

    Marty “‘Undocumented’ looks like ‘freedom’ to me sometimes.”

    I think you’re right although probably the only real freedom left would be to leave America.

  14. #14 |  B | 

    I am really starting to resent the fact that the absurd and/or criminal actions of my government put me on the de facto side of probable murderers and child rapists.

  15. #15 |  supercat | 

    //It gets even more absurd when you see how many people actually qualify as a “sex offender” these days. //

    IMHO, some of the people who have pushed for the extension of such status to an ever-larger group of people, did so for the purpose of downplaying the crimes and punishments of the people who really did deserve such status (and should have been kept locked away).

  16. #16 |  ChrisD | 

    To me, this is also one of those muddled areas of law enforcement. How much is predicting/preventing future crime and how much is punishment for things done in the past? The recidivism is so high for true sex offenders that it really straddles this line between punishment and prevention.

  17. #17 |  Dakota | 

    Yeah, I’m not sure its actually a plan or even unintended consequence. What is actually going on is that anyone with the nerve to fight a distance law is committing political suicide. You are then “supporting” child rapists living in the kindergarten classroom or some such BS. But if you get the law done you are a tough on crime guy. Its a political win-win, without having to take a risk or exert much effort. Upping sentencing or another more decent way to handle it would be, you know like hard, and stuff.

  18. #18 |  BamBam | 

    How about teenagers sexting each other being corralled into the sex offender category? Even those who were simply sent a picture message? I don’t know about you, but most cell phones can’t prevent who sends you a text/picture message.

  19. #19 |  BamBam | 

    #16, someone with integrity would say “to hell with being scared of not being reelected in the rigged elections, I will stand up and do what is RIGHT”. Unfortunately I believe, based on experience and lots of observation, that 95% of the people on the planet have little integrity, critical thinking skills, and/or willingness to draw a line in the sand and die for a crossing of that line. THEREFORE this planet is screwed as we descend further into unbridled feudalism with no window covering to pretend we’re living under a different system.

  20. #20 |  Chuchundra | 

    The really ridiculous part of it is that you could brutally murder someone, chop up their body and bury it in the backyard and, once you’ve served your sentence, you’re free as a bird.

    But pork a girl who is a few weeks under the age of consent and you’re on the government shit list until you die.

  21. #21 |  Charlie O | 

    But we have to do it FOR THE CHILDREN.

  22. #22 |  Mike T | 

    #16

    It’d be easy for a politician with balls to fight. All they’d have to do is get in front of the camera and yell at their opponents, “what kind of numbskull supports letting dangerous criminals back into society and then makes them live under bridges?!”

    I think it’d be a great “common sense” issue if a politician cared to make a stand. No one in their right mind would question a politician who says that we need to get rid of these stupid laws and replace them with serious laws that keep serious sex offenders in prison.

    Of course, it didn’t help that the SCOTUS ruled that it is “cruel and unusual” to execute someone for child rape. That makes it questionable that, at this point, a state COULD actually put one away even for life.

  23. #23 |  Tsu Dho Nihm | 

    As usual, the most sober commentary on this entire issue comes from a humor website.

  24. #24 |  Ariel | 

    Any of you remember the “Satanic” scare or the “Daycare” scare? The current laws on sex offenders are no different, hysterics in action. Sick, perverted legislators, prosecutors and the people who back them.

    Sexting (yeah, save the teenagers by branding them for life), urinating and being seen (no matter how hard you tried to hide), 19 year olds who thought she/he was 17 but was a lying 15 year old instead, all trapped in the same net with pedophiles, ephebophiles, rapists, and exhibitionists (not so bad without the trench coat, aiming at adults, and female, but I’m biased).

    The new Puritans are from the Right and the Left. They should all be so ashamed at the havoc they are wreaking, but their perverted self-righteousness gets in the way.

    BamBam, on sexting, the sex offenders and child abusers are the prosecutors. They should be listed for life.

  25. #25 |  JS | 

    Ariel “The new Puritans are from the Right and the Left. They should all be so ashamed at the havoc they are wreaking, but their perverted self-righteousness gets in the way.”

    Great line Ariel!

  26. #26 |  Cynical in CA | 

    It’s all part of the great State plan to make everyone a criminal.

    Criminals are easier to control than free innocent people.

    Next up is charging a man and pregnant woman with a lewd act for having sex because the guy’s dick could potentially be seen by the fetus. I mean, that’s some pretty perverse shit if you ask me. They’re both hardened criminals … well, at least the man is.

    All this shit makes me tune out. It really is too much to bear that I have to share my few short years on this planet with such mindfuckingly asinine morons. I’m about ready to pretend they don’t exist anymore.

  27. #27 |  Mag | 

    They start the list earlier now with zero tolerance policies in schools. I know a child who was branded in his school record as having “sexually harassed” a girl for making a joke about wiping pee on her. He didn’t show himself. He didn’t use real pee, he had water on his hands. It was a vulgar little pee joke told by a 10 year old boy, just as millions of little boys before him have told. He’s a sexual harasser, better lock him up now.

    On topic: So how to appease the breeders? Parents demand that they know, and many obsessively check their neighborhoods for their own local perverts. How else to provide the public with the illusion of protection from a perceived devil of all devils then to tag them, track them and segregate them?
    I think the unmentioned subtext with the “clustering” fears is this, we want sex offenders just to disappear, as in dead and buried. Not to be seen, heard or dealt with anymore. At the same time we don’t want to get our fingers dirty with the death penalty for child rapists. Another case of wanting cake and wanting to eat it too in America.

  28. #28 |  Sam | 

    Recidivism isn’t higher among sex offenders than any other criminal group. I’ve tried to link the DoJ content here several times and it doesn’t get posted so I’ll leave it to you to find the statistics. Suffice to say that although truly insane individuals are a sure bet to reoffend the average three year sex offender recidivism rate is actually LOWER than the average property crime offender or simple violence offender.

  29. #29 |  Andrew | 

    I’ve often said that if you’re ever caught up in some sort of kiddy diddling accusation the best thing you can do is to just bond out, go home and get your affairs in order and then blow your brains out. Even if you’re totally innocent chances are they’ll convict you since there is no requirement for actual evidence other than accusation. Serve your time and get out of prison and you’ll be persecuted the rest of your “life”. If you’re convicted of murder or some other crime you can at least get out and you have a chance for a new start. Not so for the sex offender. Your punishment lasts forever.

    Even if you manage to be found innocent you’ll still be saddled with the child molester tag anyway. The accusation is enough to ruin your life.

  30. #30 |  CK | 

    Rainbow parties … it’s for the children.

  31. #31 |  Tom Sullivan | 

    “If you put these guys together it will lead to a higher incidence of sex abuse as they talk about this stuff. I see it as a dangerous trend.”

    So much for the theory behind AA…gotta stop those fanatics before we have more instances of drunkedness.

    Tom

  32. #32 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #25 Cynical in CA

    Next up is charging a man and pregnant woman with a lewd act for having sex because the guy’s dick could potentially be seen by the fetus.

    And no more cameras in the delivery room. Naked baby pictures are child porn. This policy will be revised when a method is developed that ensures babies will be born fully clothed.

    If I had a dime for every time a law was justified by the need to protect children, I’d take everyone to lunch. And by everyone, I men everyone on the planet.

  33. #33 |  Yoni | 

    I was wondering if anyone knew the numbers Sam brought up, because there’s a third big point there as well. So many people are willing to accept as fact that real sex offenders are astronomically more resilient to rehabilitation than other criminals, but I’ve never seen anyone produce evidence for it. So the situation is a mess because:

    1) people are put on sex offender lists for things that either shouldn’t be crimes at all or should be misdemeanors, and

    2) the government believes some people are still a threat to society and is releasing them anyway, and

    3) they may be less of a threat than others released from custody, but the state is highlighting them the most.

    And it’s impossible for anyone in politics to say anything like the above and hope to get any support.

  34. #34 |  parse | 

    “Criminals are easier to control than free innocent people.”

    What makes you say that? Criminals have already violated some attempt to control behavior, so it isn’t plain to me that they don’t represent a population that’s harder to control than “free innocent people.”

  35. #35 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #27 Sam

    Recidivism isn’t higher among sex offenders than any other criminal group.

    Thank you. The claim that sex offenders are more prone to repeat their sex crimes reminds me of the belief that black men have a special proclivity for raping white women. It has no credible basis in fact, but people believe it because it helps rationalize their irrational fears and justifies their bigotry. It’s especially preposterous for many of the kinds of crimes that actually get people listed on the sex offender registry, which is another dead giveaway that it’s purpose is fabricated out of bullshit.

    The strategy used by the pedophiles-are-around-every-corner crowd is to equate all sex offenses to the very worst cases imaginable and further bolster their propaganda with heavy doses of fiction. Hey, that same approach has worked great for the drug war and people will continue to cling to the same specious dogma even though its credibility has degenerated to zero.

  36. #36 |  Sam | 

    That might be true if everyone convicted of a crime was actually a criminal, a true career criminal. One thing I’m pretty sure you’re not factoring in is the effect being subjected to the criminal justice system has on people…it’s brutal and not exactly tolerant of dissent. Once you do your say five years (assuming you killed someone [not a cop] instead of fondling underage breasts) you’re thoroughly indoctrinated into the appropriate responses of doing what you’re told by “the man”. If your purpose in the world isn’t defined by how to stick it to the gov’t then you spend the rest of your life stepping lightly around the men with guns because once you’re on their list it’s awful damned easy for them to do as they please to you.

  37. #37 |  Billy Beck | 

    “I am really starting to resent the fact that the absurd and/or criminal actions of my government put me on the de facto side of probable murderers and child rapists.”

    “Me today, you tomorrow.”

    (The zek’s resolution — Solzhenitsyn, “Gulag”)

  38. #38 |  Whim | 

    Many states do not stratify categories of Sex Offenders. As a result, child rapists are thrown into the same category as 18 year olds having sex with a 16 year old, as well as those caught relieving themselves in public.

    As a consequence, you have many harmless people in the mix with a few very dangerous individuals as to sexual offender categorization.

    And, keeping track of the whereabouts of the harmless individuals detracts from police monitoring the really dangerous individuals.

    Witness the recent California case where the convicted sex offender imprisoned a girl for 18 years in his backyard.

  39. #39 |  Ben | 

    I know a guy who was falsly accused of molesting a 5 year old (her father was actually the one molesting her) and now, even though he was never convicted, he’s on the sex offender list. How fucked up is that?

  40. #40 |  Sam | 

    Let me try this again since it seems pertinent:
    DoJ recidivism stats (1994 study):
    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm#recidivism

    In summary, criminals tend to commit more crimes once released. 68% of criminals re-offend, 43% of sex criminals re-offend. Of those new offenses sex offenders are more likely to have a new sex offense (5.3% vs 1.3%).

    What this says to me is that a large number of those arrested for sex offenses are not what we would usually label “criminals” and that a sex offender is damned unlikely to commit another sex crime. It’s hard not to believe that the slightly larger re-offense value for sex offenders is skewed by being watched intensely by everyone in the system.

  41. #41 |  Sam | 

    Another DoJ link:
    http://www.csom.org/pubs/mythsfacts.html

    Know what else is screwed up? I’ve been dealing with the system for almost ten years now and it just keeps getting worse. Every time I go on a business trip out of the country I get to talk to homeland security and it’s been brought up that I won’t be allowed to cross the border anymore. How ridiculous is it that I get to seriously start feeling like I’m living in East Germany? I keep thinking that freedom is just over that wall and maybe I should just cut the wire at midnight and make a break for it.

  42. #42 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #23 Ariel

    Any of you remember the “Satanic” scare or the “Daycare” scare?

    If they gave as much attention to The Satanic Ritual Abuse cases in schools as they do to the more meaningless political events, people would have a bit more appreciation for the potential of human nature to coagulate into a destructive murderous mob. Instead, they merely mention the Salem Witch Trials which happened so long ago that kids think it can’t happen now.

    If you mention the daycare abuse hysteria to the average citizen, they would look at you like you were speaking in tongues.

    There is nothing so pervasive in American culture as the attitude that it can’t happen here, which of course, is what makes it inevitable that it will (and, in fact, has). Nothing is more instrumental in fomenting hatred than the attitude that we’re special (or “chosen”). It’s taught in schools, it’s reinforced through patriotic fervor, it’s institutionalized in religion, and it’s the foundation of both political parties. Lord help those who aren’t like us. No one else will.

    We differ from the rest of the world only in our limitless inability to recognize how much we’re like everyone we think we’re superior to.

  43. #43 |  MattH | 

    Sam, why wouldn’t you be allowed to cross the border anymore?

  44. #44 |  Sam | 

    Congress has twice brought up that sex offenders (me) shouldn’t be allowed to leave or enter the country (citizen or otherwise) without permission. At the border I get special treatment already and the last two trips homeland security was confused as to whether or not I was allowed to cross. Terribly entertaining if I didn’t have appointments to keep.

  45. #45 |  USAA_SUCKS | 

    In Louisiana, soliciting prostitution is a misdemeanor. Soliciting for oral sex is a “crime against nature” and a felony. It will also get you on the sex offender list. The Orleans parish DA routinely charges prostitutes the latter if they offered a blow job. In Orleans parish, 43% of people on the sex offender registry are there for a “crime against nature.” How many of those registrants do you suppose are merely prostitutes and not “sex offenders” as was imagined by the folks who dreamed up these registries. Even those people admit that thousands are on the registries that they never meant to be or imagined would be there. The registries have become meaningless because of this (other than of course, the scarlet letter placed on the people on it.) Personally, I’m against them. If you’ve done your time, you’ve served your sentence and taken your punishment. That should be the end of it. The sex offender registries are no different than the “Minority Report,” punishing people for what the “might do.

  46. #46 |  MattH | 

    Ah, I see.

    Ok, one thing I am confused about regarding your statistics, are we saying that releasing child rapists back to the streets once they’ve served their time is generally not a problem, as they don’t often reoffend, or are we saying it is a problem for a subset of sex offenders, but by and large there are just too many people on the registry who are not actually a danger to anyone? I was under the impression the latter is more accurately the case, but some in this thread seem to be saying recidivism among actual rapists is statistically not a big problem either. The stats provided do indicate the majority do not repeat, but if “rapists had a 19% reconviction rate for sexual offenses” that is still disturbingly high, IMO (provided the meaning of “sexual offenses” has not been broadened too much). One also has to remember reconviction rates can’t account for crimes that are left unsolved or unreported.

  47. #47 |  Samsam | 

    So who is it that decided acts involving elimination of waste are in fact sex acts? Shouldn’t those people be locked up as irretrievably perverted?

  48. #48 |  Pablo | 

    #33–I think a more accurate statement is that criminals are easier to stigmatize and exploit (through extracting money and slave labor) than non-criminals because the state has more authority over criminals. If you are convicted of a crime, you can be imprisoned and made to work for pennies per hour; after your release your entire life can be dictated to you by a parole officer, if you are on parole; if you are on probation the same applies, plus you have to pay probation monitoring fees; and the fines and other fees associated with a conviction are enriching a lot of influential people. And of course if you are a “sexual offender” the hell never ends and it is impossible to live something resembling a mainstream existence.

    If you are not a criminal the state cannot do any of these things to you. Of course it’s pretty much impossible to live your life from day to day without committing some crime or another, which is the whole point of the exercise.

  49. #49 |  pam | 

    your considered a minor child up to ages 16 or 17 or 18 depending on the state. But as soon as you commit a crime, you are an adult an can be sentenced lwop in an adult prison where your chances of being raped are 8 times higher than in society. Some states set age of charging as adult as low as 8, most set it at 10. Even for kids who have killed their sexual abusers (mainly a family member) they are charged as adult murderers. These are kids who can’t get on a school bus without a permission slip from a parent or see a R rated movie. The laws and the folks who write them are schizo.

  50. #50 |  pam | 

    also, some states have set no minimum age at which a child can be charged as an adult and be subject to adult mandatory minimum sentences meaning one could actually be an infant who pulled the trigger.

  51. #51 |  pam | 

    I don’t know if I’m allowed 3 comments in a row, but I was thinking maybe sex offenders have a medical problem involving hormones where some sort of medication could keep the urges in check. There aren’t too many female sex offenders so maybe it’s a testosterone (sp) problem that should be classified as a medical condition. Aren’t there some tests for that? I’m just wondering.

  52. #52 |  Cynical In CA | 

    #33 | parse

    CinCA wrote: “Criminals are easier to control than free innocent people.”

    Parse replied: “What makes you say that? Criminals have already violated some attempt to control behavior, so it isn’t plain to me that they don’t represent a population that’s harder to control than “free innocent people.””

    Well, first I must give credit where it’s due, and most who have read Atlas Shrugged recognize Dr. Ferris’ soliloquy on the benefit to the State of creating so many crimes that everyone is a criminal — it is easier to control people who are guilty of a crime than those who are not.

    The confusion here results from considering only those who have been processed by the State criminal justice system as criminals. What I meant was, in the eyes of the State, we are ALL criminals.

  53. #53 |  Cynical In CA | 

    #36 | Billy Beck

    “I am really starting to resent the fact that the absurd and/or criminal actions of my government put me on the de facto side of probable murderers and child rapists.”

    “Me today, you tomorrow.”

    (The zek’s resolution — Solzhenitsyn, “Gulag”)

    Or for a quote with an American flavor, Mencken wrote, “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”

    Human weakness and mortality is the root of all evil. No one has the stomach to die for what is right.

  54. #54 |  Valigator | 

    Perhaps some of you repsonding with unintended consequenses might educate yourself that this issue is generational, many times those who were sexually abused grow up to be abusers. And yet many of you make arguments to let these guys get closer and closer to our kids?
    Go ahead and fine tune the registry if you think that will help you sleep better at night, but make no mistake, these guys did NOT SERVE THEIR SENTENCES. The Department of Corrections in any given state, are releasing these guys early (gain time) for no other reason than budget woes, so knock off the they “served their sentences bullshit”, most of these people should still be sitting in 5×7 and not protesting they cant go into a park or live closer to schools. And while I am at it, why dont some of you “social reformers” check out how many offenders committed their crimes in other states and were freely allowed to move into YOURS? Check out the number of illegal alien sex offenders that should have been deported, but are demanding to diminish residency restrictions! The department of Justice estimates that almost 200,000 of the 700,000 should have been deported..hey I can see the sex offenders and their supporters are full force on this site…doesnt matter how many times you troll on this issue, you freaks are re-offending more and more everyday and trying to convince people like me your NOT. Read the Papers, these guys arent “pissing in the woods” as you would like the majority of people reading this would have believe…

  55. #55 |  Sam | 

    Matt, I’m not directly trying to make a conclusion about the good bad and ugly parts of criminals, what I’m trying to point out is that sex offenses are not only nearly indistinguishable from “normal” offenses (you know, killing and pillaging…it’s the raping that bothers folks) but that those in the denigrated class are generally less likely to reoffend. I would hope (not being a maker of policy) that the intent of criminal laws and regulations is to reduce crime in a manner consistent with the espoused values of our society (another discussion certainly but hey). With this in mind there is startling inconsistency with regard to sex offenses. If registering and tracking of criminals reduces crimes and damage to society then I believe there are much greater threats than those on the sex offender registry even if they DID commit the crimes (god knows I’m not the only one that got bullied into eating a plea bargain). The police officers I speak to are, so far, in unanimous agreement that the registration process is a waste of resources and I do ask every one of them that I sit down with. I’m also of the belief that registries of any kind are inconsistent with the concepts of freedom and I am very much of the opinion that if someone is dangerous you keep them in prison instead of pasting their photo on some ridiculous website. The argument about how incapable our justice system is at actually getting the right man (or woman) much less the inability to rehabilitate (because it’s a power play instead of rehabilitation maybe?) is outside of the scope I intended to raise, but is also certainly of concern.

    If there’s a problem, address it. The real problem, not one that’s been made up.

  56. #56 |  Valigator | 

    Pam, all the therapy in the world trying to get a guy to rethink his hard wiring isnt going to help. There are two medications which have shown real results and one is not allowed to be administered in the United States…not to mention they are expensive…but they still cost less than what these guys do to our children everyday. You want to look at the problem? Look at the problem, but do it with eyes wide open. Just quit coming back to the people who avoided making the Sex offender Registry for more compromises…Face it, these guys are where they are for no other reason than they couldnt control their desire to “get off” and now I am suppose to let bygones be bygones? Aint gonna happen..

  57. #57 |  Matt D | 

    In summary, criminals tend to commit more crimes once released. 68% of criminals re-offend, 43% of sex criminals re-offend. Of those new offenses sex offenders are more likely to have a new sex offense (5.3% vs 1.3%).

    What this says to me is that a large number of those arrested for sex offenses are not what we would usually label “criminals” and that a sex offender is damned unlikely to commit another sex crime. It’s hard not to believe that the slightly larger re-offense value for sex offenders is skewed by being watched intensely by everyone in the system.

    I don’t disagree with most of the points in this thread, but I think it’s pretty silly to say that sex offenders are “damned unlikely to commit another sex crime” when your own numbers show nearly half of them go on to do just that.

  58. #58 |  Andrew S. | 

    For proof that it can actually be done. Iowa actually reformed their sex offender laws. It’s still outrageous, but it’s at least better than before.

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/florida/sfl-miami-sex-offenders-072309,0,7378187.story

    The highlight:

    Among other things, the law created three tiers whereby those who committed very minor sex crimes would be permitted to live near a school or other places where children congregate. The very worst sex offenders still must adhere to the 2,000-foot ban and other strict rules.

  59. #59 |  Sam | 

    I probably shouldn’t have used the terms I used there as “damned unlikely” isn’t statistically useful. I look at 5% and think that there’s a very manageable recidivism problem which is what I was trying to get at…whereas in a perfect world we’d like to keep that number at 0.0% I don’t believe it’s possible any more than we could eliminate gun crime by banning firearms.

    I tend to get wound up in rhetoric, forgive me if I overstepped.

  60. #60 |  Matt D | 

    Sorry, my bad as well. 43% refers to any offense; the number for sex offenses is much lower.

  61. #61 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #51 | pam

    There aren’t too many female sex offenders…

    There sure are a hell of a lot more of them now than when I was in school. I try not to be too bitter about it, though.

  62. #62 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The problem with statistics is that as long as the number of offenders isn’t zero, then we clearly need improvement. That improvement usually comes packaged as another law which can be broken resulting in more crime which spawns even more laws, etc, etc, etc.

    I’ve always thought the most of the criminal laws could have been written in the first year after the government was established. After that, the Congress could get together for a few days each year to conduct whatever updates were required and to pass necessary spending bills. then they would go back home where they would hold down a real job. I am such a fuckin’ idiot.

  63. #63 |  JS | 

    Sam “How ridiculous is it that I get to seriously start feeling like I’m living in East Germany? I keep thinking that freedom is just over that wall and maybe I should just cut the wire at midnight and make a break for it.”

    Yea I think it is that way already. If I had a way to get out and someplace to go I’d leave today, and I’ve never been arrested for anything!

  64. #64 |  MattH | 

    Sigh, so where is our “West Berlin?”

  65. #65 |  JS | 

    MattH “Sigh, so where is our “West Berlin?”

    That is the million dollar question. Almost every nation on earth receives “foreign aid” from the government in Washington so its not like you can easily get away from them if they wanted you bad enough.

  66. #66 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #46 MattH

    …but some in this thread seem to be saying recidivism among actual rapists is statistically not a big problem…

    Not sure who “some” are, but my point was primarily to object to the claims that sex offenders are so much more inclined to repeat their crime than are other criminals. Speaking only for myself, I would vastly prefer to be raped repeatedly than murdered once, and it pisses me off to no end that sex crimes (violent or not) are almost universally considered to be more deserving of severe punishment than non-sexual violent crimes. Sure, Shelly was beaten and robbed, but at least she wasn’t victimized by someone who exposed himself to her. At least no one was sitting in a closest jerking off to a picture of her in a seductive pose.

    What it really comes down to is simply the fact that it’s easy (particularly in the U.S.) to vilify sex criminals far more than other violent criminals because of the absolute irrational hysteria about all things sex related. In other words, they’re fair game. What good is it to be fair game if people don’t know it? Hence, the registry was born.

    Our country, the land of the free, is run by people who believe that you should be locked up for simply being seen naked. If that’s all the “injury” it takes to remove someone from society, then there is no inherent right to freedom. There are only things that haven’t yet been banned by government (ie: your neighbors).

  67. #67 |  Matt D | 

    Dave,

    Frankly, I think you’re giving into a hysteria of your own. Yes, it’s true that we’re rather reactionary about sex. And yes, it’s true that lots of things which are considered crimes probably shouldn’t be (I’m thinking of the various examples already provided on this thread, along with prostitution/solicitation, etc–basically, victimless crimes). But it’s not as though our revulsion is based purely in our own personal sexual hangups. From Sam’s link earlier: “The median age of the victims of imprisoned sexual assaulters was less than 13 years old.” I guess if you want, you can argue that those assaults are just a matter of somebody “exposing himself” but I very much doubt that comports well w/ reality.

  68. #68 |  MDGuy | 

    I’ve always thought the most of the criminal laws could have been written in the first year after the government was established. After that, the Congress could get together for a few days each year to conduct whatever updates were required and to pass necessary spending bills. then they would go back home where they would hold down a real job.

    Dave that reminds of a quote from Gore Vidal that I like:

    “I date the end of the old republic
    and the birth of the empire to the invention, in the late Thirties, of air conditioning. Before air
    conditioning, Washington was deserted from mid-June to September. . . . But after air conditioning
    and the Second World War arrived, more or less at the same time, Congress sits and
    sits while the presidents-or at least their staffs-never stop making mischief…”

  69. #69 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #65 Matt D

    Dave,

    Frankly, I think you’re giving into a hysteria of your own.

    The only regret I have about my hysteria is that it took so long to get to that point. But, I doubt my attitude would be considered hysterical to someone living under a bridge for peeing in a doorway.

    Yes, it’s true that we’re rather reactionary about sex. And yes, it’s true that lots of things which are considered crimes probably shouldn’t be (I’m thinking of the various examples already provided on this thread, along with prostitution/solicitation, etc–basically, victimless crimes).

    That’s sufficient justification by itself.

    But it’s not as though our revulsion is based purely in our own personal sexual hangups.

    I think the revulsion if perfect grounded in total rationality. Below a particular exact age, sex is revolting. The very next day, however, sex is perfectly acceptable. And, of course, everyone agrees precisely on what that age should be.

    From Sam’s link earlier: “The median age of the victims of imprisoned sexual assaulters was less than 13 years old.” I guess if you want, you can argue that those assaults are just a matter of somebody “exposing himself” but I very much doubt that comports well w/ reality.

    At least some of those cases probably didn’t even rise to the level of someone exposing themselves. Read up on the Satanic Ritual Abuse daycare cases.

    There is no crime in the country easier to get a conviction on than a crime involving a child victim. The child can be coaxed into saying anything the prosecution wants and experts will take the stand and tell the jury that the child can’t possibly be lying. The parents, meanwhile, are blind to anything short of unmerciful vengeance. Add to that the fact that a mere accusation of child sex abuse is all that’s required to convince most people that someone is guilty and I think it’s quite possible to make a case that more people are falsely convicted of child sex abuse than most other crimes.

    But, even if everything you say is perfectly well founded, that still doesn’t justify the sex registry.

  70. #70 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Attention everyone!

    I have coined a phrase: The Krueger-rant.

    I intend to invest heavily in them.

    You may now carry on.

  71. #71 |  JS | 

    Cynical in CA “Attention everyone!

    I have coined a phrase: The Krueger-rant.

    I intend to invest heavily in them.

    You may now carry on.”

    Yea. Wow. That was amazing, even for Dave.

  72. #72 |  Matt D | 

    Yes, I’m aware of those cases. And I’m aware that the system doesn’t always work perfectly. But I’m also aware that these crimes actually do happen, and cannot be categorically dismissed as just the product of our irrational fears of sex. I tend to think age of consent laws are often silly and harmful, but one should not extrapolate from that, as you seem to be doing, that sexual contact between adults and preteens is arbitrarily criminalized.

  73. #73 |  parse | 

    Well, first I must give credit where it’s due, and most who have read Atlas Shrugged recognize Dr. Ferris’ soliloquy on the benefit to the State of creating so many crimes that everyone is a criminal — it is easier to control people who are guilty of a crime than those who are not.

    So your proof for the assertion that it’s easier to control people who are guilty of a crime than those who are not is that somebody in a novel said so?

  74. #74 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Friggin’ blockquote thingies. I’m having a crisis at work, so my logic (and my typing which sucks on the best of days) may not be as coherent as normal. haha!

    Dave will be at Disney World starting tomorrow and ending next Saturday, so you will all get a reprieve. Use it well. :)

  75. #75 |  Billy Beck | 

    Parse: believe me, you’re a fucking idiot.

  76. #76 |  supercat | 

    //So your proof for the assertion that it’s easier to control people who are guilty of a crime than those who are not is that somebody in a novel said so?//

    The state certainly has more control over people whom it has decided are guilty of a crime (i.e. prisoners, probationers, and parolees) than those whom it has not. That should be pretty much obvious. The only aspect of the quote whose truth would be debatable is whether the state criminalizes more and more things //for the purpose// of gaining such control.

  77. #77 |  supercat | 

    //Not sure who “some” are, but my point was primarily to object to the claims that sex offenders are so much more inclined to repeat their crime than are other criminals.//

    The fact that recidivism among so-called “sex criminals” is lower than for the general criminal populace suggests that many people are so branded who should not be. It in no way disproves the notion that there is a certain IDENTIFIABLE subset of the prison population whose recidivism rate will be extremely high after release (obviously, the subset of the prison population that will in fact get caught for crimes after release will have a 100% recidivism rate, hence the ‘identifiable’ qualifier).

  78. #78 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Supercat, the distinction I make is between completely innocent people and people who have committed crimes, whether prosecuted or not.

    Criminalizing normal behavior subjects everyone to prosecution at the whim of the State. Therein lies the ease with which the State controls everyone, whether one has passed through the criminal justice system or not.

    The threat of death is just as effective as death itself, and just as violent.

    Beyond all of that, it should be clear to any reader of this blog that the difference between someone who has been through the ordeal of the criminal justice system and someone who has not is a matter of luck and/or time.

    Shit, I’m a rational and sometimes I catch myself muttering, “But for the grace of God.” Doesn’t everyone here?

  79. #79 |  Cynical In CA | 

    On second thought, the difference between someone who has been through the ordeal of the criminal justice system and someone who has not is a matter of luck and/or time and/or political favoritism.

  80. #80 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Corrected and edited version of my unreadable rant post (#69)

    #65 Matt D

    Dave,

    Frankly, I think you’re giving into a hysteria of your own.

    The only regret I have about my hysteria is that it took me so long to get to that point. But, I doubt my attitude would be considered hysterical to someone who, upon being let out of prison for having consensual sex with a girl who, only a few decades ago, wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow if she had already been married is now living under a bridge knowing that this is probably the best his life is ever going to be.

    Yes, it’s true that we’re rather reactionary about sex. And yes, it’s true that lots of things which are considered crimes probably shouldn’t be (I’m thinking of the various examples already provided on this thread, along with prostitution/solicitation, etc–basically, victimless crimes).

    That people are necessarily being victimized by the law is reason by itself for abolishing the registry. The registry is a life sentence. I choose not to disregard, with a wave of the hand, the injustice of condemning people to a living hell for the rest of their lives who don’t even deserved to be charged with a crime to begin with. If that makes me hysterical, I wear the badge with honor.

    But it’s not as though our revulsion is based purely in our own personal sexual hangups.

    America’s hypocrisy and obsession with sex is, by definition, a hangup. Americans can, with a straight face, declare someone a felon for committing a mutually consensual act with a girl that, the very next day, would be perfectly legal if she just happens to be at the age of consent. And, to top it off they would argue vehemently that such a person deserves to have his remaining life completely destroyed by being branded a perverted monster and alienated from everyone on the entire planet.

    To me, that’s just fucking sick.

    From Sam’s link earlier: “The median age of the victims of imprisoned sexual assaulters was less than 13 years old.” I guess if you want, you can argue that those assaults are just a matter of somebody “exposing himself” but I very much doubt that comports well w/ reality.

    At least some of those cases probably didn’t even rise to the level of someone exposing themselves. Read up on the Satanic Ritual Abuse daycare cases. There are a lot of them. It wasn’t a slight anomaly n an otherwise flawless justice system.

    There is no crime in the country easier to get a conviction on than a crime involving a child victim. The child can be coaxed into saying anything the prosecution wants and experts will take the stand and tell the jury that the child can’t possibly be lying. The parents, meanwhile, are blind to anything short of unmerciful vengeance. Add to that the fact that a mere accusation of child sex abuse is all that’s required to convince most people that someone is guilty and I think it’s quite possible to make a case that more people are falsely convicted of child sex abuse than most other crimes. And that’s if the case even makes it to trial which is highly unlikely.

    But, even if everything you say is perfectly well founded, that still doesn’t justify the sex registry. The sex registry is worse than prison because it takes away the hope for a better future. It alienates a person from everyone around him who might have a positive influence on him. It embitters him and forces him into a camaraderie with others who are likewise condemned to a joyless existence. There is no benefit to be derived from the registry that can possibly offset the destruction it brings to people who, having served their time, have now been brutally deprived of all hope of attaining some semblance of normalcy by people who can forgive any crime except one that involves sex.

    Hopefully, I didn’t fuck up the blockquotes. Time to go throw some brats on the grill and pack for the trip.

  81. #81 |  Stephen | 

    “Time to go throw some brats on the grill”

    I know what you mean but…

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/brat

    was the definition that came to mind. :)

    Throwing some “ill-mannered annoying children” on the grill sounds good to me but it might be illegal where you live.

  82. #82 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    There are so many straw men being built around here, there ought to be “No Smoking” signs.

    I don’t see anyone here defending overly broad sex offender registries, or zoning laws which make it impossible for people on such lists to find anywhere to live. As I pointed out, above, I don’t even see Ernie Allen, head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – and one of the preeminent voices for child victims of sexual exploitation – defending these situations.

    But I see a lot of folks here merrily leaping from legitimate criticism of overreaching state registry and zoning laws (as well as indisputably idiotic anecdotal examples), to basically claiming that all child sex crimes represent an attempt by The Man to turn us all into criminals.

    As perhaps the only person on this board who has some experience investigating and prosecuting child sexual exploitation, let me tell you that it’s not “easy” to get a conviction in such cases. Although juries are typically sympathetic to child victims (sometimes overly so), that comment ignores the incredibly real stress and hardship experienced by law enforcement and prosecutors getting cases to the point where a jury hears a child speak.

    Some of you talk like there’s no real crime here. Let me tell you a couple of real examples. The first one involved a guy who was identified by an Internet Service Provider as transmitting child pornography. I took on the case, along with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents. The guy was posting video virtually nightly on a foreign-based website, showing him raping his four-year-old daughter. There was no doubt this was really happening, virtually in real time. Then he would brag about what he was going to do the next night. We never could locate him. As far as I know, he’s still raping his daughter, who would be nine or ten by now.

    A friend of mine handled a case out of Miami. The defendant was HIV-positive, and ran a lucrative business selling videos of himself raping children all over the Caribbean and Latin America. He took order from pedophiles who would ask that he film this or that sex act, performed on a child of a type they would specify. Many of his victims, when identified, tested positive for HIV.

    I don’t know anyone in law enforcement who enjoys this work, although obviously it is rewarding when a case was able to end terrible abuse.

    Anyway, you can complain all you want about guys on the list because, as 16-year olds, they were caught having sex with their girlfriend. You and I would easily agree – along with 99% of law enforcement – that such as person shouldn’t be stigmatized. But give me a break about how child sex abuse isn’t a real crime, how it’s all made up and exaggerated, because, frankly, you’re full of crap.

  83. #83 |  Sam | 

    Speaking of straw men…

  84. #84 |  Setting ourselves up for tragedy « Travels with Shiloh | 

    [...] school, bus stop, play ground, etc. you’re going to end up with a whole bunch of ex-convicts congregating together and interacting with no one else.  Take away every option from people other than [...]

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