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    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    Sex Crimes and Politics

    From an editorial in The Washington Post:

    EAGER TO BE seen as tough on crime, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) and one of his leading Democratic rivals, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, are outdoing each other to slam sex offenders, with each man proposing to stiffen the penalties imposed on the convicted. First, Mr. O'Malley urged a six-point plan, whose headline-grabbing centerpiece was a draconian requirement that sexual predators and child molesters who have already served their sentences be subject to electronic monitoring for life, possibly by use of satellite-tracking ankle bracelets equipped with Global Positioning System technology. Then, Mr. Ehrlich urged tougher penalties for sexually violent criminals, whom he called "the worst of the worst." Not to be outdone, a Democratic state senator, Ed DeGrange, is crafting legislation that would enable Maryland to lock up certain categories of sex offenders in mental institutions after their release from prison, a sanction in use by 17 other states.

    This works because people think of "sex crimes" as being perpetrated against "innocent women and children" and we have to save them!

    I believe that once people have done their time, they should be able to live like everyone else unless/until they perpetrate another crime. It seems that the public want people whose crimes are sexual to be cut off from society forever and ever, even if their sentences do not demand it.

    And, of course, there's not much outrage about all this from anyone except sex offenders and the people who love them (they are, believe it or not, human beings who are loved), and, since no one cares how sex offenders feel about anything at all, much less their own punishment/rehabilitation(who are we kidding?, nothing is done.

    The other thing is, if people who have committed sex crimes are so dangerous that they have to be placed on a registry for their neighbors to protect themselves, perhaps we need to consider our comfort with the sentences for these crimes. We clearly don't feel they are adequate.

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