Whenever an idea to "reform" criminal law comes down, there is an abject hue and cry from the defense bar, not because we don't want to improve the system, but because we see every "reform" as another way for the crazy people on the other side of the reform to screw with the wheels of justice. Not to mention what they want to do to our clients.
The newest salvo comes from Ohio, the land that gave us US v. Larry Flynt.
Take Megan's law. A registry where police can better keep track of people who are accused of sex crimes after release from prison. Defense counsel says no. It will be used to give the information to others. They will come and stalk people who have paid their price to society. It will include too many crimes that have nothing to do with sex but have to do with genitalia like prostitution or public lewdness or urinating in public. It will lump people who commit crimes against youngsters with people who have a fight with their girlfriend or who have sex with a minor when they are only a year or two older than the minor.
We are told we worry to much about the defendant's and put innocent victims at risk, then within a few years all our chickens come home to roost.
Now from Ohio, we have the newest in Fall colors, SEX OFFENDER GREEN. That's right, if you've been convicted of any level 3 Megan Law Crime, or you are related to anyone who has been convicted of such crime, or you borrow that car, everyone in the neighborhood, infact everyone on the highway will know it.
Well what's the matter with that? Well for starters less than 1% of all level three sex offenses take place between strangers. In fact most of the time it takes place within families. So now you put family members at risk. At risk for what you ask? How about crazy people who are peeved that the car owner didn't get life or death for their sentence and decide to take it into their own hands. How about the kid who goes into the movie in his dad's car. Can't wait to see the look on his date's father's face!! Or the guy who finally finds a job, works and then comes out to find his car demolished by vigilantes. You know, after a while, enough is really enough. Especially when it is clear that IT DOESN'T HELP!!
It is a vicious cycle. Politicians can't help but pander. It is in their makeup. They can't help but take advantage of a constituency that has a little voice, to make a bigger constituency happy. They are too weak of mind, or morals, to say "we will not abuse one group for another." And so we get:
Genarlow Wilson, locked up for 10 years for having oral sex with a girl 2 years younger than he.
Dopey politicians who want to declare prostitution which is a crime between consenting adults a sex crime.
Even dumber yet there is a politician who wants to make urinating in public and other public lewdness a sex crime.
Then we have even more lilied liver idiots who are gathering the homeless sex abuser
and herding them into trailers and moving them from place to place so nobody has too many of them in the neighborhood. Here's an idea, if you don't like the neighborhood, take a second job, make more money and MOVE. Don't tell a person who has made enough money to live somewhere that he can't live where he wants.
I would love to find a person who has been banished by some stupid anti sex offender zoning statute to sue the rear off some idiot county for a violation of his fair housing right.
We have kids going to jail for showing Playboy magazine to a younger kid. I'm not talking showing a centerfold to a 5 year old by a 19 year old, I am talking about a 16 year old showing a centerfold to a 14 year old. Hell the same kid is watching "R" rated movies on cable and on the internet. He is seeing as much as he wants to see. But if we have the chance to make it a sex crime... well then who cares.
How is it, that when 17 year old Genarlow Wilson has consensual oral sex with a 15 year old he is some crazed sex offender and treated like an adult, but when 24 year old Monica Lewinsky has oral sex with Bill Clinton she is some kind of Ing'enue.
Maybe it is my mood, but what we as a general public do not know about sex offenders could fill a book. So we listen to the potbangers and let them work us up into a mass hysteria until the people who do know about these things get tired of shouting over the masses. We mess it up really bad and then we wonder how we were lead astray. We ask no questions. We accept the garbage we are fed and then wonder why we are screwed up.
Oprah Winfrey says sex offenders can't be reformed! Great, who the hell gave Oprah a PhD. in anything besides eating? She was abused, so she is an expert? I had appendicitis and had an appendectomy, does that make me a surgeon?
We ignore what we don't want to hear. Instead of asking our own questions we just accept the pap that we are fed and then wait for more.
The Internet has more information on it than any library I have ever seen. We can get our answers right hear with the help of Google or Yahoo. But we won't. We will use it to listen to music, write a report, and watch a video, and then think we are all technological. Until we add the ability to reason critically, and to use the Internet for something other than porn and politics, all we have is a more expensive TV.