Friday, May 05, 2006

A VERY expensive and counterproductive bill

As noted here, the Senate has passed new sex-offender legislation (the House passed something similarly earlier). As the article says:

...Both bills would create a national database to link individually-managed state Web sites that track sex offenders. Members of the public would be able to search all the states' data.

The legislation also would require convicted sex offenders to register their whereabouts every month, in person, and would upgrade failure to comply from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Under current law, those convicted of child sex crimes are required to register once per year, by mail, Hatch's office said. Failure to comply is a misdemeanor. ...

This is going to be spectacularly expensive. First, the police are going to have to increase the staff who collect this information many-fold.

Second, this onerous monthly "in your face" in-person reconfirmation is going to lead to higher non-compliance rates, felony or no.

Third, making non-compliance felony is going to mean longer prison terms which cost tens of thousands of dollars a year per convict (a bigger loss when you consider he's no longer a taxpayer).

Fourth, it will further isolate the sex offenders from society which will lead to more crimes -- and as the linked study notes, when sex offenders commit new crimes the crimes are very often in other categories. In particular I would expect to see the assault figures increase.


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