Thursday, October 11, 2007

Can A Law Overstep Its Bounds?

It is illegal in Illinois, Texas, Virginia and a few other states for registered sex offenders to give away candy on Halloween, to go to parties that are for kids or just simply being on the street.

In Baltimore Maryland police are giving out signs for the sex offenders to place in their yard saying that no candy is available at their homes. The police expect the sex offenders to post the signs, turn off their lights and to not answer their doors. If they don't, they are not breaking a law but accoring to the article someone will be stopping by to make sure the right thing is going on at that residence.

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-What other crimes carry state sponsored penalties after time has been served?
-Is it right to place restrictions such as these on people who have already served their time (not those on probation, but those who have served their time)?
-Can someone make you to turn your lights off and not answer the door to your own home? If you were arrested for breaking this law, do you think that it would have any standing before the higher courts?
-What are your thoughts on the issue of ongoing punishment after time is served? What about a sex offenders list that one must register for?


misawa said...

I personally don't have a problem with this at all - these are life sentences of a different sort. These sorts of people (sexual offenders) have forever altered the lives of their victims (and usually by extesion, the victims' families and friends) in a way that's not as easy to get over as, say a burglary. I have no problem with these punishments extending far beyond what time they serve in a jail.

j razz said...

What about murder? Manslaughter? Thievery?

All of those things alter lives of those affected.

I think here is the issue I have with this. If you are sentenced and serve your time, why are you expected to have your rights limited after you are released from your prison sentence? In no way am I advocating that sex offenders should be babysitters. I am saying that there seems to be an inconsistency in how we treat them. If there needs to be rights reductions after release, that needs to be a part of their sentence. At least, that is my thought on the matter.

I would hate to be convicted for a sex crime I didn't committ and know that after I serve the term I am sentenced to I still have to bear "the red letter" of a sex offender.

j razz

misawa said...

But the punishments in this country aren't designed in case an innocent man is found guilty. I understand your concern and have known people who were falsely accused of criminal wrongdoing - the stigma they must live with is unjust. That's why the burden of proof needed for these offenses must be concrete and beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Released felons have been having their rights limited for years - they can't buy a gun (legally), many states do not allow them to vote, and the 4th amendment usually is tossed, as well. While I don't necessarily agree with that last one, I have no problems with the first two. Nevertheless, in most states, it is indeed a part of the sentencing where they find out their rights are forever limited, in most cases just gone.

All of that being said, "sexual assaults" and any other more heinous crimes of that nature need to be harshly re-examined in terms of prosecutorial evidence and the registry. But that's probably another discussion for another time.

Sunny said...

It's always nice to have the opportunity to educate the uninformed.

Read the Human Rights Watch report, No Easy Answers--and pass it along.

We need better answers.

Be part of the solution.

j razz said...

I think that the stipulations being put in place afterwards (such as the "no candy" signs and telling them they have to stay inside and not answer their door) were not part of the original sentences. Of course, that is speculation on my part, but it does not seem like a judge would mandate this during the sentencing.

I think I am getting caught up on the idea that rights can be taken away afterwards (such as answering your door or giving away candy). I understand the dangers, but if you can look up sex offenders and know where they live, shouldn't you be proactive in doing that if you are going to be sending your children out to collect candy in your neighborhood?

Again, I am not for sex offenders being treated nicely, but I am for equal rights. If they can do this to sex offenders, what is next? There needs to be a balance.

j razz