By Paul Kruger
There has always been the occasional sociopath amidst our ranks. We used to hope we could count on our laws to protect us by providing appropriate sanctions to deter them from harming us. We count on our lawmakers to be wiser than the masses when they author legislation to protect the public.
Since 1990, Congress and the states have abandon reason to write numerous laws that run counter to that very goal. This article is about but one of those trends in law making--this about Megan's law and its various versions across the nation. Sex offenses are crimes just as are murders, assaults, burglaries, arson etc. Each crime needs it's set of consequences.
Recent laws, however, are going beyond consequences for the guilty to negative consequences for public safety and for the morals of our country. Lawmakers are in collusion with an uneducated public to create a specific class of "pariah" within out society, sex-offenders. Rather than educating themselves and writing appropriate legislation, they allow themselves to fall prey to the same hysteria and mis-information that causes false fears at the public level.
Megan's Law was a knee jerk reaction to a very rare occurrence. Megan's law is causing more violence than it prevents.
Denver Post: Sex Offender Hysteria - December 31st, 2007
When it comes to sex offenders the community mind proves to be wrong because the communities are receiving bad information from political figures, radio and television news, and newspapers on line and off line.
In the wake of terrible crimes such as the one for which Megan's Law was named, politicians and the public jump to incorrect conclusions as to the nature of the danger to society and react with laws that actually create a greater danger to society than they cure. They are either afraid or too proud to admit they were wrong and continue to heap more trouble on society as a result. One of the most dangerous aspects of this type of law is the publishing to the public, the names and address of former offenders who have served their time. This poses a very real and proven danger, not just to the ex-offenders but to innocent people as well.
Example: ... innocent people were physically attacked and forced to flee their homes. In a similar outbreak three years ago a 14-year-old girl was burnt alive when her home was firebombed by vigilantes who wrongly thought it was occupied by a sex offender.
Example: Melissa Chandler is dead. She was killed in a fire that was intentionally set by two neighbors who after setting fire to the home, stood and watched it burn.
They missed their target - Melissa's husband Timothy Chandler who was recently released from prison for downloading child pornography. Melissa is survived by her husband and son.
Example: The Los Angeles Times reports on a killing in Lake County, Calif., in which prosecutors are investigating the possibility that this very fear may have come true for the first time in the state. Registered Sex Offender Murdered, Decapitated, and Burned by Doug Guthrie (734) 462-2674 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP - In announcing the arrests of two teenagers today, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said they stabbed Daniel G. Sorensen to death, sawed off his head and used a blow torch to burn his body simply for the thrill.
..."They lured him into a garage where a space had been prepared to kill him," Worth said.
Worthy said the pair stabbed Sorensen in the back multiple times, then sawed off his head. The garage had been prepared with a tarp on the floor and cleaning supplies standing by to clean up the blood. She called the killing "bone-chilling."
Example: (AP) Everybody in this little mountain community knew that Timothy Carl Chandler had been arrested on child pornography charges. It was in the newspaper and all over the TV news.
Two of Chandler's neighbors decided to do something about it, police say. They're accused of trying to scare him off by setting fire to his tiny house tucked away in a hardscrabble Appalachian hollow.
Chandler, 53, escaped from the flames. But his wife was killed in what authorities are calling an example of vigilante justice.
- You can find a lot more examples, here.
These are but a small sample of the unintended consequences of these public lists. In addition to these acts of hate, these lists make it nearly impossible for these people to find work and housing leading them to commit even more crimes...not a very good means to protect the public.
Are we to believe that those who committed these atrocious murders are really "better people" than those they hunted down and killed? Is this the type of society we want our lawmakers to encourage, knowing full well that we have sociopath killers who will only use these lists to kill more people?
Citizens need to be better educated because they are living under false information and a false sense of security offered by politicians, for no other reason than to fool the public into thinking they [politicians] are doing something to solve a problem, which they are not. They have made us less safe.
Fact: Between five and nine children are abducted and killed every year, 10% of all child homicide victims. A child is 15 times more likely to be killed by a parent than an unknown pedophile. One child dies on average every two to three days at the hands of a family member.
Fact: Sex offenders, after release, have a much lower recidivism rate than other offenses. source, National Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Fact: Most sex offenses are not committed by strangers but by a family member or someone close to the victim.
Fact: More sex offenses are committed by those released from prison for non-sex offenses than for sex offenses.
The idea of protecting children from assaults of all kinds is noble and necessary. In the end the best protection lies not in ill-conceived "feel good" laws but in parental education and vigilance at home. For this to happen, politicians and the media need to make an effort to provide accurate and honest information. Passing a law and telling the public it will protect them does everyone a great disservice because it does not provide protection at all. It creates false sense of security while at the same time leading to violence and harsh barriers to reentry into society as law abiding citizens. For those who succumb to the urges, it turns more of us into the very type of monsters we want to be protected from in the first place.
Congress needs to search it's soul for meaningful solutions and abandon those that don't serve the public good.