Friday, August 28, 2009

Rationality & Sex Crimes

Major tip-of-the-hat to GriftDrift, who compiled the following links you should read.

While the nation is shocked, and will continue to be shocked at the horrific case of kidnapping and sex slavery coming out of California, we are again called to try and understand why some sex offenders are ever let out of jail and why it is so difficult to keep up with them.

Helpfully, the State of Georgia provides quite a good example. We don't track dangerous sex offenders well because we are too busy tracking people who aren't really sex offenders.

Yup. Let that sink in for a moment.

Right now, dangerous sex predators roam the streets of the Peach State, while someone who made a bad decision as a teenager sits in jail because she can't make her $10,000 bond. Worst part of this? The sex crime she was convicted of IS NO LONGER A CRIME IN GEORGIA THAT REQUIRES REGISTRATION AS A SEX OFFENDER.*

Most people registered as sex offenders aren't really sex offenders as the term is usually defined by the public. When you hear that a "registered sex offender" has moved to your neighborhood, you think the worst: child molester, rapist, felon. You don't think, "teenager having sex with another teenager," "public urinator" or "individual who visits prostitutes." Yet, that's the majority of "sex offenders" in our nation.

Once such a determination is made, Georgia (and many other states, to be fair) then spend millions tracking and legislating the lives of these people. This is expensive and time consuming. The bigger the floor, the more cracks. The more cracks, the more a determined predator is able to get through them, and wreck some child's and some family's life forever.

An official state agency admitted that, of Georgia's 17,000 registered sex offenders, only 30% were potentially threatening, only 5% were clearly dangerous. "Just over 100" were considered "predators."

Which individuals would you want your state to focus the majority of its legislation and law enforcment capability on?

Oh. You don't believe me? You think I've officially jumped the shark and am advocating or excusing the worst behaviors imaginable? Quit your inferred justification.

I want law enforcement and legislators to coordinate their practices most effectively to make society safer from legitimate threats. This is no boo-hoo rehabilitation-based progressivism on my part, this is about using government resources where they are the most effective and eliminating inefficiencies that directly lead to the harm of children and citizens.

Update: A fantastic open letter to Governor Perdue from Icarus at Peach Pundit.

Update 2: The original post stated this as "NO LONGER A CRIME IN GEORGIA." This type of activity is still a crime under sodomy statutes in certain instances based on age. However, most of these crimes are considered misdemeanors now instead of felonies, and some misdemeanors do not require registration as a sex offender. No one writing the law, however, seemed to understand the concept of ex post facto, to extend the new rules to crimes already on the books.

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7 comments:

patsbrother said...

CORRECTION: When you said, in bold, "The sex crime she was convicted of IS NO LONGER A CRIME IN GEORGIA," you should have said "no longer a felony in Georgia."

Sodomy is still a crime in Georgia. For unforced acts of sodomy between individuals 13 to 18, it is a MISDEMEANOR if the two are within four years of each other. If four years and a day, it is a felony.

Contrary to what the author of the cited article believes, misdemeanors ARE crimes. They are crimes that carry up to twelve months possible incarceration in the county jail.

Also contrary to what the Economist author wrote, sodomy (including oral sex) is still a crime in Georgia. It's just not a crime in all circumstances. For instance, the court rulings to which the article refers (one at the State level and one in SCOTUS) declared it unconstitutional for a government to punish two consenting competent adults for committing sodomy in the privacy of their own homes. The person in the article was engaged in sodomy with someone who was not competent to consent, they were not adults, and they were in a classroom -- not in private. I guarantee you, what they did is still against the law in the State of Georgia.

However, as I said, the crime committed would now be charged as a misdemeanor, and misdemeanants are not required to register as sexual offenders.

--

Generally speaking, in your post you are talking about a subject of which you are woefully undereducated.

"Most people registered as sex offenders aren't really sex offenders as the term is usually defined by the public" ???

"...'teenager having sex with another teenager,' 'public urinator' or 'individual who visits prostitutes.' Yet, that's the majority of 'sex offenders' in our nation." ????????????

You are talking out of your ass. You've taken the outliers and made them the bulk, without any reason to do so.

The act to which you referred as NO LONGER A CRIME, and most of the examples cited in the article, are the exceptions -- not the rule.

FYI: "predators" are those with the highest grade of risk for sexual offenses, being at risk of committing sexually dangerous offenses.

If someone is a Level I sex offender he is at low risk of committing any sexual offense and if some is a Level II sex offender he is at an intermediate risk. This does NOT mean they are at a negligible risk of re-offending.

The article itself refers to a study in which TWENTY-FOUR PERCENT of sex offender RE-OFFEND in fifteen years. That's a ONE IN FOUR track record. That is a high level of recidivism!

(To be fair, the article does not specify what crime is committed as the newer offense. However, I don't think the study referred to was looking to see how many sex offenders later commit theft by taking.)

Also contrary to your post, people DO find out about legitimate threats through the online registry. Unfortunately, some of them are too late. I know: I'm writing an appeal in which (alleged!) molestations came to light because of the registry.

I have a number of serious concerns and frustrations that have to do with the sexual offender registry in this State, but your representations of it on this blog are simply not accurate.

As strange as this may sound, you are acting exactly like the politicians who ramp this thing up every year. You take an anecdote or two, make them the centerpiece of something for which they are really the fringe, and then jump off the deep end in a self-righteous swan-dive of exaggeration.

I am also gravely concerned about the Economist's journalistic integrity. Yes, they're foreigners, but to write such a long article about Georgia and to get such basic concepts wrong does not speak well of their reliability in international reporting.

Tim said...

Yes, a lawyer friend recently told me the story of a high school boy who used his cell phone to take a photo of his girlfriend performing oral sex on him. They were both underage, so the sex act itself is not what got him into trouble. He sent the photo to friends which the girl's parents found out and called the police. And they called the Feds and the boy was charged with distribution of pornography involving minors, which means he is tagged as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Yes, it was stupid what he did, and yes, he should be punished. But a lifetime of having to put a notice in the newspaper every time he moves to a new address, etc, etc--that has to be "cruel and unusual punishment." But this is just one example of how lawmakers overreact primarily because it helps them get votes.

Peace,

Tim

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

However, as I said, the crime committed would now be charged as a misdemeanor, and misdemeanants are not required to register as sexual offenders.

And yet, there she is, still IN JAIL on $10,000 bond, racking up better spent hours for some district attorney's office, some sheriff's office who has someone tracking her, and depending on a taxpayer funded indigent defender to negotiate her way out.

Meanwhile, the sex slaver in California was a repeat offender who was somehow able to hide three human beings from authorities on his own property. I wonder if the next shocking sex crime in Georgia will be perpetrated by a violent repeat offender who wasn't tracked adequately because those charged with tracking them were busy chasing around people who got caught doing you-know-what as teenagers.

You don't have to have a great deal of education on legal minutia in order to apply common sense to this subject and see the bullshit for what it is.

patsbrother said...

You said no such thing and the article said no such thing. In fact, you both said the OPPOSITE.

You also said a lot of things you just plumb made up.

This is why I have a problem with your blog.

--Sodomy is still a crime regardless of age. It's just most adults do it at home, in private, with consent.

--The reason the person who made the bad decision as a teenager is in jail and because your hypothetical sex predators "roam the streets" is because the first person failed to abide by the registration requirements and your hypothetical sex predator is abiding by them. The registration requirements applied to both of them. One complied; one didn't. That's how laws work.

--Your hypothetical dangerous sex predator, if a "sexually dangerous predator" under Georgia law, might be "roam[ing] the streets of the Peach State," but he's doing it with this nifty bracelet around his ankle that contains a GPS monitoring device that allows the authorities to know where he is within two meters of his exact location. I don't know how they do this out in California, but that's how we do it here.

--If by "most of these crimes" you are referring exclusively to sex crimes committed between teenagers four years apart in age or less, then yes, those are generally misdemeanors. However, if by "most of these crimes" you are referring to anything else, then no. You're wrong.

--It's not SOME misdemeanors do not require registration as a sex offender. NO misdemeanors require registration as a sex offender.

--To cap it all off, you have the hubris to belittle people for not understanding ex post facto laws when YOU DO NOT APPEAR TO UNDERSTAND THEM AT ALL.

What is infuriating is that I agree with you that the sex offender registry produces undesireable outcomes. But your misstatement of facts and of law and your insufferable need to just make things up frankly fries my tater.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

That first paragraph was quoting you, but the HTML did not translate.

It should have looked like this: However, as I said, the crime committed would now be charged as a misdemeanor, and misdemeanants are not required to register as sexual offenders.

To which, the main thesis of my response, and the whole idea behind this post (since we are meta-conversating again) is:

And yet, there she is, still IN JAIL on $10,000 bond, racking up better spent hours for some district attorney's office, some sheriff's office who has someone tracking her, and depending on a taxpayer funded indigent defender to negotiate her way out.

Because I guess they don't teach you about mis-allocation of resources in law school.

When people get aspects of the law incorrect, by all means, educate them. You have posting abilities here, write a position paper explaining the law.

But try to understand the animosity people have when dangerous repeat offenders (who are being monitored) are able to commit repeat crimes while non-threatening one-time offenders are getting jammed up in the system for a paperwork violation. This is a problem, and we are not wrong to call it a problem.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

For an example, remember that a 6 year old was molested and murdered in Brunswick by not one but TWO dangerous sex offenders.

Where were their ankle bracelets? The monitors had forced them to move from their home (near a playground) into a neighborhood where children lived.

Badly written laws can have devastating consequences.