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Edward R. La Rue
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The threat of sex offenders near schools, pt.2

Most of the so-called sex offender laws have proven to be ineffective. They relied on the fiction that assumed most sex offenders are predatory and therefore the same people commit the bulk of these crimes. That is not the case, because, in spite of many more sex offenses, more severe penalties and such devices as sex offender registries and the use of the indefinite incarceration via civil commitment, the rate of sex offenses being committed is relatively unchanged from the period before all of these laws were passed.

In news reports like the one on offenders living near schools, there is always a breathless quality to the reports finding examples of non-compliance with the registration or geographical restriction laws. Sex offenders were found living next to schools! Shocking. Given all of the monitoring, police presence and other adults present, schools are probably one of the safest locations for children.

The problem with these laws is that not only do they not make children safer, but also they make it virtually impossible for anyone convicted of these crimes to ever successfully reenter society. These individuals are ostracized and pinned with a virtual Scarlet Letter. In addition, they likely received inadequate treatment, counseling or training that would allow them to reestablish themselves in society.

If that society deems it necessary to make them permanent outcasts, it and its legislators ought to have the courage to be upfront and end the charade of civil commitments and registries. They should have the honesty to make all sentences for sex offenses life without parole. 

At least then, everyone would know exactly what they had to deal with. There would then have to be a factual debate of the cost of such a course of action. The cost of lifetime incarceration would be substantial and the taxpayers might become uncomfortable with the ever growing expense of such a draconian program.

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Edward R. La Rue
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