Saturday, April 6, 2013

OK - Sex offenders make easy target for Okla. lawmakers

Original Article

04/06/2013

By SEAN MURPHY

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoman sex offenders who claim state laws make it practically impossible to return to productive lives are finding little sympathy before a Legislature that cannot stomach their crimes, even if they don't involve young children.

"All I ask is that you not view all of us as monsters," [name withheld], a former teacher convicted of second-degree rape involving a 17-year-old male, told a House committee last week as it considered tougher laws against sex offenders.

Oklahoma's sex offender registry includes those convicted of a broad swath of crimes, not just those against children, but some lawmakers argue the very nature of those crimes makes it imperative to crack down on offenders.

Rep. Leslie Osborn
"I will always vote to be the one that's tough on crime," Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, argued recently during debate over a bill to impose mandatory prison sentences for those who fail to register. "I want us to remember that the people that are registering here include people who are rapists, child molesters. These are people that have done heinous crimes to members of our communities."
- What a crock!  If they wanted to be "tough" on crime, then they'd require all ex-felons to register on a public shaming hit-list, and to have similar residency laws!  Sex offenders are just their way of helping themselves look "tough" to the people, while actually doing nothing to prevent or deter crime.  And, not all of those on the registry are rapist or child molesters.  Just wait until your son or daughter get slammed with the label!

[name withheld] testified before legislators as the House considers laws that would keep sex offenders out of state parks and prohibit them from going to schools unescorted if their victim was younger than age 18 — rather than 13 as the current law reads. It passed on a 12-1 vote.

"I've tried to stay out of the legislative fight for the past few years because it's become so depressing for me and my family, until these bills hit the floor this year," [name withheld] told the unsympathetic panel. "If bills like this pass, I will not be allowed to go to my nieces' and nephews' birthday parties. I will not be allowed to go walking in the park with my husband. I will not be allowed to pick up my children when their sick unless I have a chaperone with me. That's impossible."

Rep. Fred Jordan
Rep. Fred Jordan, R-Jenks, said his vote in favor of the escort bill was easy to defend.

"The whole motive of that bill is to further protect children, and that's got to be our No. 1 concern, and that's my concern every time I vote on one of these pieces of legislation," Jordan said.

Two years ago, sex offenders testified against a bill that would have chased them from an Oklahoma City trailer park. When the bill passed, many moved to tents on the park's outskirts. In the state Supreme Court, justices are currently considering whether it is legal to make registry laws retroactive. Two plaintiffs in the case claim they are exempt from the state's sex offender registry rules because their crimes pre-date the creation of the registry in 1989.
- If you are obeying the Constitution, then it's not legal, it's an unconstitutional ex post facto law.

The American Civil Liberties Union says recidivism rates for sex offenders are much lower for sex offenders (slightly more than 5 percent) than for those convicted of robbery, burglary or larceny (above 70 percent). The figures are from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

"We also know these bills and current statutes make us less safe as a society by marginalizing those that have to go on the sex offender registry," said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Oklahoma chapter.

[name withheld], who was convicted of lewd or indecent proposal to a child in Pittsburg County, said he's met several offenders through his court-ordered counseling sessions that can't find work and become homeless because of the current restrictions. He said a law passed a few years ago that requires the words "Sex Offender" to be printed on their driver's licenses also is a problem.

"Let's say you're applying for a job. You can't escape it. I know a guy who got beat up in a convenience store because when he was ID'd for a pack of cigarettes," [name withheld] said. "It's the scarlet letter of our time, for God's sake. It really is. For some people, one little tiny mistake can blow up their whole life."
- Maybe ex-offenders need to start suing those who pass these laws for harassment, bodily harm, etc? If that is possible? They probably have immunity from their actions, which is insane in our opinion.



3 comments :

Mark said...

This article bespeaks the mental illness that prevails in the nation's state legislative assembliesies.Legislators are immune to law suits via sovereign immunity. The best that could be done is sue the state via the state attorney general office. Hint, file multiple law suits at the same time; that usually will wake a few people up fast.

Rick Palm said...

I am ex-SO and grown tired of additional laws being passed to restrict my freedom to work, go to school, or even travel. I am 60 and my registration was for 10 years and would have ended in 2010. But Kansas changed the registration to life. I find really no point in living and will welcome death when it comes. With High Blood Pressure, Stomach Ulcer, Over weight and broader line diabetic and not taking any medication for these problems, death will come soon. After all death is a release not a punishment.

Mark said...

RICK PALM, YOU MAY HAVE A GREAT EX POST FACTO CLAIM UNDER THE KANSAS CONSTITUTION. IN SHORT, YOU DID YOUR 10 YEARS OF REGISTRATION SO THE STATE THEN CANNOT FORCE YOU TO SIGN UP FOR LIFE. I HAVE TO ACCPET WHAT YOU HAVE SAID IN YOUR COMMENT AS TRUE. IF YOU HAVE THE COURAGE, YOU MAY PREVAIL BUT IT WILL TAKE A COUPLE OF YEARS FOR LITIGATION TO GET TO THE KANSAS SUPREME COURT BECAUSE THE LOWER COURT COWARDS WILL NOT WANT TO GIVE YOU A ROPE TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. I AM SORRY I DO NOT HAVE THE CASE HERE WITH ME, BUT INDIANA JUST A VERY SHORT TIMER AGO, (LAST MONTH i BELIEVE), RULED FOR A PERSON WHO ENDED HIS REGISTRATION AND THE STATE TRIED TO PULL THE KANSAS TRICK AND THE STATE LOST BIG TIME UNDER THE EX POST FACTO (STATE CONSTITUTION), FOR THE SAME THING YOU ARE STATING. MARYLAND HAD ESSENTIALLY THE SAME ARGUMENT AND JUST RULED FOR DOE A FEW WEEKS AGO.