Saturday, August 18, 2007

McConnell: Why are we obsessed with sex predators?

Was listening to a little bit of Mike McConnell's radio show (listen online at his home station M-F 9-12, Sat 12-3) on WSAU, the local affiliate here that runs his show on Saturdays, and he raised an interesting point.
He asked why we treat sexual predators so much differently from other criminals, meaning that we require them to register and then allow people to track their every move, even online.
McConnell, a thinking man's conservative if ever there was one, went so far as to liken our obsession with sex criminals as a sexual titillation in itself.

I wouldn't go that far. But he has a point; why DO we require sexual predators to affix their names to a registry? Because they're still a danger to re-offend? Then why the hell are they out of prison?
As McConnell pointed out, isn't it just as much within our interest to know if our new neighbor has a history of burglary? Or arson? Or, for that matter, murder?

We require NONE of these felons to register. This leads me to think the law should be more consistent, in that either we recognize sexual registries as unconstitutional double jeopardy, or we require all felons to register.

I've long advocated for open-ended sentencing, where a sex criminal would get not the 10-20 years they usually get now, but rather they'd essentially get life in prison with parole a possibility in 10-20 years. Meaning, if after X amount of time, a panel of psychologists determines the person is a reasonable danger to reoffend, there is no reason to let him out. As our prison system is supposed to be about "rehabilitation," he clearly would not have "learned" anything behind bars.

Finally, I do think the mandates for sexual registration need to be tweaked. I recently learned that a childhood friend of mine is a registered sex offender. Knowing him how I do (or did, anyway), I have a hard time believing he would've "abducted a child not his own" for sexual reasons. In his case, it was more likely an ugly custody battle that took an unfortunate turn. But, sex crimes and mandatory sentencing being what they are, the judge probably had little to no leeway in convicting him of "abducting" the child, which, "zero tolerance" being what IT is, would've necessitated a trip to the registry for him.
It's possible he's really a twisted pervert who wanted to do something unspeakable to that child, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if he was actually the "victim" of legal wrangling. Which is unfortunate, in that it cheapens what registries were intended to do.

Having said all of that ... here is Wisconsin's sex offender registry.

Gas today: $2.92/3.02/3.12/D 3.06

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