After sex offenders serve their time, should restrictions be so strict?

On behalf of Law Office of Steven Haney posted in Sentence and Punishment on Thursday, November 7, 2013

When individuals are convicted of criminal wrongdoing, it is the justice system’s responsibility to ensure that they are held accountable in ways that protect the public from a high risk of repeat offenses and in ways that reasonably discipline the convicted person. A staggering number of recent studies indicate that alternatives to incarceration, mental health counseling and transition assistance usually do the greatest good to both society and convicted offenders. When individuals are given the proper tools to live their lives in upright and productive ways, all but the most high-risk and violent offenders become far less likely to reoffend again.

Federal and state lawmakers have begun to embrace a policy of criminal justice that is not as hard-line as the ones they have pursued in the past when it comes to drug offenses. They are beginning to understand that lengthy incarceration periods and other harsh accountability measures brand these individuals in a way that is neither good for society nor for the offenders. Yet, when it comes to sex offenses, lawmakers seem to be cracking down on offenders with increasing severity, even after they have paid their debts to society.

Sex offenders are regularly compelled to register as such for the remainder of their lives. Their personal information is tracked and is often made public. They are often required to live in far-flung and remote locations. This branding often makes it near-impossible for these offenders to obtain employment, housing and schooling. Murderers, individuals convicted of extreme domestic violence and white collar criminals who steal identities are not treated this way.

As lawmakers and the general public both begin to embrace a new approach to drug offenses, it has become time to ask whether restrictions placed on low-level and non-violent sex offenders who have served their time are reasonable and wise. The answer is likely to be an extremely loud and persuasive, “No.”

Source: New York Times, “Restricted Group Speaks Up, Saying Sex Crime Measures Go Too Far,” Ian Lovett, Oct. 1, 2013