Florida Bar Association President Michelle Suskauer recently penned a column published in FLORIDA TODAY about needs for reforming the criminal justice system. In her piece, she focused on a number of important issues about mental health, curbing recidivism, re-entry, sentencing and much more.
Missing among these targets for reform, however, is the ever-present quagmire dealing with sex offenders, a topic most politicians and justice officials prefer to ignore. Suffice to say, the very term “sex offender” presents a vile image that calls for eternal condemnation of anyone within that category. When offenders finish serving time, they are required to register for life within law enforcement, even if they were not predatory. This goes for the federal as well as state systems.
A young man aged 19 who engages in consensual sex with a 15-or-16-year-old female will wear the Scarlet Letter for life, forever banished from living in specific locales within a certain distance from schools, parks, bus stops, or anywhere where youngsters gather. This doesn’t mention the inability to get jobs or housing because the condemnation is far reaching. That 19-year-old offender will sustain a life sentence even if not all behind bars.
Have we gone crazy?