May 23, 2002

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if there was a sexual predator living in your neighborhood? Under current law, we have a right to know if there are individuals living in our community who have criminal backgrounds involving sexual misconduct or molestation of children. Most states have laws requiring individuals with criminal records of this nature to register with local law enforcement officials when they move into a new community. These lists compiled by law officials are then made available to the public and are often even published or aired by the local media to warn residents of the possible danger.

This type of legislation has been entitled Megan's Law, after it was created first in New Jersey following a high profile case in 1994. Megan was raped and killed by a neighbor, a past sexual offender, who had moved in next door to Megan's home without her parents having any knowledge of the offender's background.

However that law may be under fire and as a matter of fact has been overturned in at least one eastern court of appeals. Connecticut has ruled the law unconstitutional as it does not allow past offenders the opportunity to prove they have been rehabilitated. The court ruling stated the law violates the civil rights of these individuals by branding them as life-time offenders.

I'm sorry, but I think that is the least our society can do to maintain the safety of prospective victims for these sexual predators. Sure I understand there might be some argument made that these folks can be rehabilitated and that they've paid their debt to society for past crimes and should be allowed to resume their lives. However, it is a proven fact that at least a few of these animals will break the law again and create more victims. If a person is convicted of armed robbery, we don't let them out of jail without putting their names on a list preventing them from buying firearms.

Is it worth infringing on the civil rights of a few rehabilitated convicted sexual deviants in order to make our world a more safe place from those who will re-offend? I think so. Say there are lots of child molesters out there who magically have been cured of their unspeakable disease or mental defect that causes them to turn evil. They still committed the unspeakable, and living with your name on a list is likely the least of the demons these folks will have to deal with as they move on with their lives.

Personally I don't think it would be cruel or unusual punishment to physically brand the perverts. Okay maybe that is going a little too far, but this is one of the most horrific crimes imaginable. I don't think placing the individuals' names on a watch list and making neighbors aware of the possible danger is too excessive. Come on, after all we are letting them out of jail, that's enough of a second chance at life.

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