By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Once again our newest war on sexual perversion in the United States has taken some very bad turns. Those politicians seeking re-election and who have no merit to their candidacy, continue to turn their attentions to America’s newest boogiemen … the convicted sexual predator. Laws are getting more abusive. Governments are taking great privilege with liberty and privacy. In the end, as with every other such policy, the innocent are getting swept up and the policy is an ultimate failure.
It all started locally with Cicero Town Councilor, Jim Corl who this year is up for re-election. He recently introduced and got passed legislation that restricted where a convicted sex offender can live in his town. It mattered not to Corl that the person had served their sentence and paid their debt to society. Similarly, it mattered not that murderers and other violent felons and drug dealers live freely in his town. Just sex offenders were the target of his law.
Corl’s law is part of the new Republican playbook for this upcoming election. Straight from the cookie cutter politics of Karl Rove; we find politicians creating an enemy against whom nobody can argue and for whom few if any will rise up and defend. Unbelievably, the State of Ohio wants convicted sex offenders to drive around with florescent green license plates. Why not scarlet? Auburn is now discussing passing such a law; as are municipalities across the nation.
It doesn’t end there as Governor Spitzer just signed the most fascist bill ever to come out of a State Legislature. Now, it is untested but it is the law that a person who has been tried and convicted and served their sentence, can still be held in custody “forever” on the assumption that they are just too dangerous to be in public. Again, this law only applies to sex offenders; not drunk drivers, murderers, robbers, or other violent felons.
Two recent examples show the dangerous blowback of these laws. In one, a St. Lawrence County man was denied the right to visit with his daughter because a convicted sex offender lived in the man’s neighborhood. Where the obscenity of this law really comes to light is the second example from Florida. There, a man convicted 21 years ago of urinating in public after drinking alcohol to celebrate his daughter's birth was told he had to move because he was a convicted sex offender and the crime of urinating in public falls within the definition of ‘sex offense’ because of the public display of one’s genitals. The man’s home was within 2,500 feet of a school and thus he was illegally residing within a ‘Corl’ zone.
Of course, this whole concept of legislating against people we are mad at instead of protecting ourselves from people who threaten us is a colossal failure. Nothing stops a predator from driving a few extra feet to snatch a strange child. Laws do not respond to non threatening situations like the 17 year old boy and his 16 year old girlfriend, the man who urinates in public, or the adult who engages in chatting online with a minor.
Police and several State governments are backing off of these laws. The practical application and unintended consequences of residency laws that have led some sex offenders to go underground, or not register with local police, or give fake addresses. Many complain they cannot find a place to live legally. There is also a strong push to ease residency restrictions from victims' advocates, prosecutors and police. Chief among their complaints is they spend too much time investigating potential violations.
As a member of this community and citizen of the United States, I am more fearful of legislators whose election platforms are built on the backs of children than I am of convicted offenders living within so many feet of a library. We are not building a society of children nor for children. Children are nothing but soon to be adults and adults-in-training who one day will have to assume the responsibility of their own lives. Dumbing us down and restricting the lives of adults to chase ghosts is a waste of time and money. It is an insult to our Founders and the very concept of this nation.
It is indeed a sad commentary on the state of political affairs when we have to defend criminals from the lynch mob mentality. So long as people are hungry, homeless, uneducated, without medical care, and shoulder substantial tax debt, it is unconscionable for a legislator to waste a moment of his time in office or a dime of the People’s money on any other issue.