Alright, I'm going to get yelled at for this post.
On the radio this morning there was an article about Wilkes-Barre passing a law banning registered sex offenders from living within 1500 feet of any area children congregate. The law is still in the planning stage, but it follows two others in Luzerne County in a short time. The version in Wyoming Township literally bans all sex offenders from the city, since there is no place that they may live that doesn't fall within the forbidden zones. Apparently, this law will also ban them from living within 1500 feet of "any school, child care building, public park or recreational facility". I wonder what this will leave for them.
A pedophile will still be a pedophile, no matter where they live. They will still find a place to stalk children. A violent sexual predator will still be a violent sexual predator. They will still find a place to stalk the men or women they intend to attack. If these people have served their time for their crimes (even given the fact that such impulses are likely to persist) then can we keep punishing them? Doesn't this fall under "cruel and unusual punishment"?
I know someone will say I must have no idea how horrible these people can be and they'd be wrong. Very wrong. I have been very much impacted by pedophiles in my life. I am not soft on them. I know they cannot be cured at this time. I just worry about the civil rights issue. If they are so unwelcome, then they should never have been released by the prison system. Why don't we just set up modern-day leper colonies, shove them all there and be done with the fiddling and fussing. How about bringing back the internment camps that we stuck the Japanese-Americans in during WWII? Hey, why not go even further and set aside some land in each state and call it a reservation. We can stick them all in there, let them have some sort of industry so we don't have to support them through welfare and just forget about them. We can use Bush's pet border fence to keep them there, even.
I definitely agree that something must be done to find a way to reduce the number of sexual predators out there. We need to find a way to treat such pathological behavior and end it. We need to find a way to protect both children and adults alike from these jerks. I just don't know if laws like this are going to work. Already sex offenders are skipping out on the registries for fear of being driven out of the homes and jobs they've found.
Do we stop convicted bank robbers from ever stepping in another bank? Do we have a law legally separating victims and domestic abusers? What about people convicted of other violent crimes? Do we forbid them from ever going near other people again? No. We put them on probation for a while and then cut them loose when that probation is finished. Where do we draw the line? Sex offenders need to be monitored, yes. This is why laws exist to track them. Parents and families also need to monitor their children and surroundings. Responsibility does not only lay with the law and government.
However, and this is where I look past the things done to me and slip on my rose-colored specs, I think we must also give those offenders who have truly rehabilitated a real chance at another life. I would hope they use that second chance wisely and well, just as I hope for the same with all criminals released from prison.
Another thing, this only deals with those sexual predators that have been caught and successfully convicted. So, this will just force them to roam further afield than before to find victims. It doesn't even cover those we've not caught or convicted.
On a side note, Dunmore also has one affecting sex-offenders moving into the area. They passed it on October 24th. It allows those who already live there to remain, but no new sex-offenders can move in at all because this one "prohibits a person listed on the state sex-offender registry from living near (within 2500 feet) any 'school, child care facility, open space, community center, public park or recreational facility.' " Throop is considering following their lead.
This is being played out nationwide. Here's the one garnering most of the attention, though. Check it out, folks. By the way, read the text of the law. It's given me fodder for an entirely new post.