Tuesday, June 20, 2006

When the pendulum swings

Tulsa, Oklahoma has made itself 99.5% offlimits, as noted in New Laws May Create Clusters Of Sex Offenders:

Sex offenders can no longer live within 2,000 feet of public or private schools, parks, playgrounds or licensed childcare centers. That means 99,5 percent of Tulsa is now off limits.

That will create clusters of sex offenders all living together in the few remaining areas that are legal. News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright looks at how laws with good intentions are having some unintended consequences.

Tulsa Police detective Tim Lawson: "The Governor signed emergency enaction, 12 to 15 different laws that deal with sex offenders." Detective Lawson's job is to educate sex offenders, when they come into register, where they can and cannot live. He just received a map Monday that shows sex offenders cannot live anywhere in the green, red or blue circles.

The News on 6 went to one of the little white areas that are allowed, other than one apartment complex, it's all commercial buildings and a highway. "It basically limited the entire city. Might be 12-14 blocks in the city where sex offenders can reside."

Other cities across the state are the same because the laws are statewide. Tulsa Police opposed the laws because they grouped all sex offenders into the same category, even though all sex offenders don't pose the same threat. "The lady who exposed herself at a concert is not the same threat as the guy perpetrating on children at a daycare."

One man pleaded no contest to raping his 42-year-old ex-girlfriend, yet he can't live near children and Tulsa Police must spend as much time monitoring his address as the person who preyed.

Another reality is the vast majority of people who molest children did so to a relative inside their own home, not to strangers at playgrounds or daycare’s. The original sex offender law was to make them register so citizens could know where offenders live and protect themselves, but has now gone well beyond that. "There's only going to be so much before there's lawsuits and the pendulum will swing back the other way and we'll lose ground as opposed to maintaining the integrity of the act as it was initially written."

Tulsa Police also fear these laws will drive sex offenders underground, they won't register and police won't know where they live and society will be worse off than when police at least knew where they lived.

The sex offenders the News on 6 talked to say they feel this is the only crime where the punishment never ends. When murderers get released, they can live anywhere they want.

"maintaining the integrity of the act as it was initially written." There was no integrity to the act as it was originally written! It was sold on a false basis ("they all do it over and over and over") by demagogue politicians seeking cheap political gain through demonizing the unpopular.

And it was also sold on the basis of "this is all we're going to do, nothing more" -- a true politician's promise, because the instant they got what they asked for, they started going for more.

By now this should be obvious to everyone: whenever you see a politician seeking to "crack down" or "get tough" on sex offenders, you're seeing a politician with no answers whatsoever to real problems.


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