Sex offenders are the lowest level of scum I can honestly imagine. Pedophilia, rape, sexual assaults, lewd acts, are all found on the worst bottom of the worst barrel. There is no splitting hairs about this…but I’m kinda gonna try.
Thanks to things like Megan’s Law and state laws, we require everyone convicted of a qualifying sexual offense to register themselves as offenders where they live. Every state has their own database. Every concerned parent in any neighborhood in America can find out how many offenders are near their home, what they were convicted of, and even what their address is. With only a few keystrokes, you can literally pinpoint where perverts lay their twisted heads.
While this is a valuable, important tool for ensuring (the illusion of) safety, it also presents the question that I don’t think anyone but the offenders themselves have ever posed: Is this really fair?
The principle of our justice system is that you are innocent until proven guilty. If you are convicted, you are sentenced and serve a punishment that supposedly fits the crime. Once you’ve served your punishment, you are released back in to the world with the idea that you are square with society.
For sex offenders, this is not the case. Until they draw their last breath, they must register as someone who once committed a crime. Never will they get a clean slate. Walls and wardens are replaced by lifetime registration and the neighborhood watch.
Why sex offenders? OK, bad question. I’ll rephrase that. Why JUST sex offenders? Because they are creeps, dishonorable SOB’s, freaks, and dangerous to those around them? I can think of myriad offenses that neighbors might want to know about. I would like databases for every crime. Singling out the sex offenders just isn’t enough. If after you’ve paid the piper for your crimes, you still need to register as a criminal, then it should be for all crimes.
Give me a database on people who steal identities and pass bad checks. Let me see how many of my neighbors have been in car accidents, so I can avoid driving near them. Give me a list of people who have pulled off Ponzi schemes or have embezzled money, robbing people of their retirement. Show me a database of everyone convicted of burglary or grand theft auto. I want to know where every drug dealer is, and where every violent criminal is in relation to my house.
These criminals are just as guilty of doing things that fuck up people’s lives. Murderers don’t get listed, but some statutory rapist get listed cause he got caught up in jailbait and her daddy found out? Murders…fucking murdered someone! I don’t care what degree it was, murder is still murder and I need to know if stealing my neighbor’s paper on Sundays is going to get me shot to death. I’ll subscribe to the New York Times if this is gonna be an issue.
I’ve never checked my current neighborhood for sex offenders. Why? Well, I don’t have kids and I am a 27-year old man; not exactly rapist cat nip. Sure, I’ve got a smoking hot girlfriend that would be the catch of the day for a rapist, but frankly, looking at the list makes her no safer than knowing which of my neighbors has stolen a car or burglarized a home.
Sex offenders deserve mistreatment, and I hope they got plenty when they were in prison, but does this need to continue once the courts of this country have decided that we’re even? Next we’ll force them to wear a patch on their arm or be tattooed to keep track of them. Hmmm, sounds familiar.
All the same, I say we expand the databases to every crime, and not-so-crime, under the sun. If Ms. Sullivan is a serial jaywalker, I want to know. Ever cheated on your taxes? Maybe we should paint your credit score on your front door? I need to know if you ever cheated on your husband? It relates to whether I can trust you to make lemon squares for the bake sale. That would suck ass–which probably gets you on the sex offender list. Well, maybe we’ll make a database all the same. Or maybe, we call the debts paid and let people get on with their lives instead of driving them from town with pitchforks and torches while convicted murderers watch from their windows and say, “Man, I’m glad I only killed a guy.”