Rights Must Be Protected

In the April 3 issue of the New University, the article ‘Republicans Defend Tougher Legislation,’ written by Edwin Ohanian, mentioned both the upcoming Jessica’s Law (AB 231) and the already-passed Megan’s Law, both of which are laws meant to be tough on sex offenders. Megan’s Law already places their pictures and addresses on a public Web site, which is not only degrading, but also makes them vulnerable to harassment and violence (akin to publishing lists of doctors who perform abortions).
Now Jessica’s Law is aiming to limit where they can live, force them to wear GPS transmitters for the rest of their lives and other indignities.
Don’t let it be construed that I defend the actions of sex offenders, but what offends me is that their humanity is being discarded whenever one of these kinds of laws are passed. What ever happened to the idea of rehabilitation?
Under our legal system, once someone has served their sentence, they have paid their debt to society. The court has determined that as punishment for their crimes, they are to serve a certain amount of time, and then they can return to society at large.
But sex offender laws bypass this due process and instead mark these people for life, essentially putting them on parole for life without having to go through the pesky process of sentencing them to it.
This is retroactively changing the sentence of every convicted sex offender, and that’s a violation of due process.
Why is it that murderers are not given the same scrutiny? If someone commits a murder and is sentenced to 20 years in prison, they can serve their time and be done. They don’t need to register their addresses or wear GPS transmitters for the rest of their life. Are they not allowed to live within 2,000 feet of other people?
These types of laws are unconstitutional and an invasion of these people’s privacy. Yes, they are criminals, but if they have served their time, gone through the statemandated treatment and been returned to society, they should be considered rehabilitated, not marked with a scarlet letter. But who’s going to defend a sex offender, because who could defend someone who committed such an act?
Well, I will, because it is our job as citizens of the United States to stand up for our constitutionally protected rights and freedoms. Just because they are being deprived to a segment of the population whose prior behavior we find abhorrent doesn’t mean they deserve any less.
First they came for the sex offenders, and I did not speak out because I wasn’t a sex offender. I’ll let you fill in the rest how you like, but just remember that eventually at the end, it will be you.