Readers – At the request of the woman who wrote to me about her husband landing on the Sex Offender List for 25 years for putting a $5 tip down a 17-year-old’s shirt, I have taken down her post. I share her concern that some of the comments were painful.
We all agree, I’m sure, that we do not want sex offenders preying on children. But I hope we all agree, too, that there is a difference between tormenting a child and being a Class A jerk for a minute or two. Putting the latter on the sex offender registry is cruel and unusual punishment. (That’s what this petition says.) Give the jerk a fine, demand an apology, make him do some community service. That seems just. But 25 years on the registry is 25 years when a person is a pariah, prohibited from being near any place kids congregate, which is to say, anyplace the rest of us get to go and be part of the world: parks, bus stops, school, the Y. Being on the list is dehumanizing.
This comment that appeared under the original post sums up a lot of the reasons I highlighted the case in the first place. – L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: Interesting angle unaddressed here:What is the purpose of the registry? Is it supposed to punish the offender? Many commenters here seem to think so.However, the purpose of the registry has always been to protect people from further offenses by identified and convicted offenders, not to punish people.It was designed to be a tool that communities could use to protect children from harm.So is anyone going to argue that having this man on the registry is making our children safer? That if someone did this to a 17-year old they should be put on a list designed to protect children?
I would contend that this achieves the opposite. It makes the sex offender registry less powerful.
We have watered down the registry so much that it no longer is useful as a tool. There are too many stories of public urination, consensual sex between a 21-year old and a 17-year old, “sexting” between high school students, etc.
The sex offender registry, by straying so far from its original intent, has lost its power to protect children. – AB
And this comment resonated for me, too:
I think the problem we’re having here is that some people can’t seem to say, “Yes, but.”
Yes, what he did was a relatively mild form of sexual battery, and there should be some punishment because this is considered criminal and unacceptable behavior in law.
But the sex-offender registry is messed up and this is a good example why — a man who did something that is NOT “nothing” is having his entire family suffer indefinitely for something that did not *and did not have the potential to* injure, defraud, kill, and in a sane world would not be deemed to have seriously psychologically injured another person. …
The thing is that it’s not necessary to characterize this as something “not that bad” or “not important” in order to decry the level of punishment and the involvement of innocent parties in that punishment here. – Pentamom
P.S. I am turning off the comments on this post to end the discussion of this particular case. We will certainly return to topic of the Sex Offender List again in later posts.