So now Ohio wants to issue green license plates to sex offenders:
Bad idea, and the law enforcement officials in Ohio—whose opinion ought to be listened to clearly—agree. This legislation sounds good on the outside—after all, in people’s minds, sex offenders should receive the harshest kind of lifelong punishment that legislators can dream up, right?—but will create a nightmare.
Plus, and here’s the thing that’s hard to say without coming off as a sympathizer for sex offenders, but because this is the No Kool-Aid Zone, I’m going to say it anyway: there are sex offenders, and there are sex offenders. Nothing excuses a sexual crime…nothing; let me be clear about that for people who like to read things between the lines. But not all sex offenses are created equal; the vast majority of sex offenders are not predatory; the vast majority of sex offenses take place between people who are related to one another, or who at least know one another; many sex offenses are consensual in nature.
The problem comes in when our one-size-fits-all thinking gets into the minds of legislators, etc.; the “law of unintended consequences” comes up huge in sex offense cases. Megan’s Law sounds good, making sex offenders be publicly identified, but what if one moves in next door to me, and the whole world knows that? What does that do to my property value? Yep, you got it. Laws in some states are so onerous as to where sex offenders can reside upon release that some parolees have had to sleep under bridges, homeless because there’s no place they can live (and that’s what we all want, right? Sexual predators having no place to live. Brilliant.).
No, we need to find a way to separate those who are truly predatory from the general population—forever. We do this by changing laws so that we distinguish between predatory crimes (the victim and the perp don’t know each other, for instance; other things can be added in by smarter people than myself). Prior to sentencing, evaluation is done of the person, and those declared to be predatory should be sentenced differently in some way (lock ’em up and throw away the key, IMHO). Those who are not predatory, who did something wrong with a family member, say, or the whole Romeo/Juliet statutory rape thing, should receive punishment, but when they do their time, they’ve paid for their crime—just like other ex-cons.
And not given lime-green license plates…