Legislators Are Well Intended But Misguided. Citizens Should Not Be.
The 2014 Legislative session will see a number of bills that are proposed and likely to pass regarding the sex offender registry. As our state continues to pass more and more laws named for a victim, costly repetition is occurring.
Such laws are passed with no consideration for empirical evidence as to their effectiveness, affect many on the registry who are little or no risk and are costing tax payers millions of dollars each year while doing absolutely nothing to improve public safety. In fact, they are likely making our children less safe!
These laws waste precious tax dollars that would better serve needed programs, such as the failing DCF system and for family educational programs. Such educational programs should include teaching parents to not leave a child alone while shopping in another part of a store and never allowing a child to go off with a stranger no matter what the promise!
We need to realize that no matter what new laws we pass, we will never be able to eliminate or even reduce the number of child victims unless we pass laws based on empirical evidence and focus our attention on prevention, rather than punishment.
We are about to consider a law named after child victim Somer Thompson, to apply closer scrutiny on current sex offenders. Citizens should note, however, that the perpetrator in Somer’s case was NOT on the registry! In fact; 98% of sex offenses are committed by first time offenders. If we were to apply these laws to the individuals most likely to commit a sex offense, we would be policing every individual in our State.
It is time to call upon all legislators to become knowledgeable about what works, what is working in other States and then – only then – create laws that are SMART on crime. Our legislators should also disclose the costs of the proposed legislation and the intended benefit. If we evaluated the costs and benefits of the laws already in place, our citizens would be shocked.
During the coming lawmaking session, our legislators should focus resources in areas that will make a difference and that will impact the safety of all the State’s citizens. Our children deserve that much.