Wednesday, April 17, 2013

CA - Sexual offenses not a life sentence

Original Article



Laws are always being made and revised when it comes to sexually-charged crimes. It’s a very difficult situation that many feel is preventable. The goal is an understandable one: protect the children.

The methods, on the other hand, are not.

Lumping together all felons, with sexually-charged crimes against them, is the first atrocity. Though classified as differing risk levels, the long term punishment for these crimes are the same. Sexual offenses range from child pornography, sexual battery and assault all the way to molestation and sexual annoyances.

The age of the offender, context of the offense, and even the severity of the action doesn’t deter the judicial system from giving these people lifetime punishments. Those who do properly register, even those with minor offenses, are barred from living in almost any busy city due to restrictions based on school, church and park locations for the rest of their lives.

But If the real aim is to protect children, than the studies done on offenders need to be taken into account.

According to the government-run Megan’s Law website, 90 percent of juvenile victims had known their assailant, while shockingly almost half the time it’s a family member doing the crime.

Barring all labeled a sexual deviants from living near schools is less helpful than banning family reunions for these people.

The reality is there is needed action. While a point can be made that sexually-charged crimes generally carry a lesser sentence than traditional violent crime, a gross stereotyping and lifelong damnation of all offenders isn’t going to help.

The attempt at crime prevention is valiant, but preventing criminals from moving on from their crimes hinders progression. If some of the efforts were shifted from punishment to rehabilitation, some convicts could successfully rejoin society as active members.

Unfortunately these people are rarely seen as mentally ill (which they often are) so they aren’t treated. Instead of identifying and treating the problem, we’ve resorted simply to removing it, seemingly forgetting that these felons are actually human beings.

A distasteful joke, or an inappropriate smack between coworkers could mean a lifetime of registering as a sex offender.

Clearly, something must be done to protect victims of this system: Those wrongfully accused, convicted of single offenses, or minor offenses must be offered forgiveness and a chance to rejoin a community.

In California, one is only awarded a life sentence in custody for murder or attempting it, or kidnapping with special circumstances like ransom. Yet, it is seen as just and fair to essentially imprison sex offenders for life by barring them from living near city buildings.

Sex offenders need to be treated the same as other criminals; a set amount of detention, a set amount of probation and the guarantee that with good behavior they can be forgiven.

Another flaw with these laws is how hard they are to enforce. With life terms, the registry of offenders is only ever going to grow.

Yet as of now, there is a constant increase of sex offenders not properly registering or reporting. When these members stop reporting, or remove GPS tracking anklets, they simply fall off of the grid entirely. With so many cases and such a heavy workload, officers often focus on the offenders they can locate.

Reasons for not reporting could include laziness, but it is a sign that the person is not willing to conform to what society demands of them for retribution. The punishment, if the assailant is located and detained, is generally a six-month sentence that is often reduced due to overcrowding; an empty threat and an unfit punishment.

Finally, these laws give a false sense of security to people with children who live near schools, parks or churches. Many are aware of these laws and feel safer knowing their neighbor isn’t a sexual deviant.

The truth is some offenders don’t report and statistics show offenders rarely abduct random children they don’t know.

These laws and restrictions, though they may be intended as prevention turn out to be nothing more than on-going punishments.

1 comment :

ericangevine said...

I could not help but notice that this opinion piece was originally published in the student newspaper at UC Fullerton. Once again, just as with most civil rights actions, we find that the younger generation is accepting the plight of rso's that their parents and grandparents do not.