As soon as I saw the headline, I started to worry for New Mexico. The New York Times last week ran a story with the headline, “Jeffrey Epstein Registered as a Sex Offender in 2 States. In New Mexico He Didn’t Have to.” and I immediately thought to myself, ‘OH NO!’ How long will it be until the State of New Mexico proposes a new law (possibly named after one of the victims in the Epstein case) to close this perceived “loophole” in their registry?
I didn’t have to wait long for my answer or the proposal. On Friday of the same week, New Mexico’s attorney general, Hector Balderas, announced he wants to change a law that allowed billionaire businessman Jeffrey Epstein to avoid registering as a sex offender in the state.
Legislators need to stop doing this! Waiting for an extremely rare, headline grabbing occurrence to happen and then coming up with knee-jerk legislation to serve as a “fix”, that does nothing to fix any perceived problem and that will have no impact on Epstein but will undoubtedly punish people who have nothing to do with him. We’ve seen it happen time and time again.
After the murder of Jessica Lunsford, States across the country passed “Jessica Lunsford Acts” imposing harsh punishments for a horrific act committed by John Couey, who was never subjected to any of the Jessica Lunsford Acts and will never be. Similarly, Jesse Timmendequas, who raped and killed Megan Kanka, will never be subjected to “Megan’s Law” because he’s serving a life sentence in New Jersey. The year after the murder of Cherish Perrywinkle, Florida passed a bunch of new restrictions for persons required to register as sex offenders, making it “scorched earth”, but the target of that punishment, Donald Smith, will never experience the scorched earth because he’ll be in prison for the rest of his life, while tens of thousands of first-time, non-violent offenders are serving his punishment.
Assuming the government is now going to hand Epstein the punishment they believe he should have gotten more than a decade ago, he may never be returning to New Mexico. Still, presuming he does; his “Zorro Ranch” in New Mexico sits on thousands of acres of land and even has it’s own airstrip and airplane hangar. Do you really think the burdens of registration (like ostracism, vigilantism, finding employment and a place to live) are going to impact him? Hell no! Who will it impact? The potentially thousands of hard-working people who have paid their debt to society, redeemed themselves and are now living a law abiding life, who may decades later have to retroactively be added to the New Mexico registry and will lose their jobs, homes and families.