Life Just Got Worse For Sex Offenders

clouds.jpgIf you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in darkness, and your night will become like noonday.
Isaiah 58:9-10
This is the story of a thousand or more Orlando residents, who at one time in their past, were convicted of a sex offense.

The jail time is completed.
The prison time is completed.
The probation is completed.
The fines are paid in full.
The driving logs are completed.
The computer usage logs are completed.
The court costs are paid in full.
The sex offender counseling is finished.

And, yet, the nightmare continues. The dark cloud hanging over their head is not just the fact that no one will hire them. The dark cloud is not just that no one will rent them a place to stay. The dark cloud is not just that their freedom to live where they want is hindered by laws that do not permit them to live within a 1000 feet of a school, playground, or day care center. Now, some legislatures are opting for even more Scarlet Letter style branding of sex offenders.

A new Louisiana law, effective August 1st, heaps on more punishment to offenders who have already completed their terms of punishment. The new law requires sex offenders to include within their social networking profiles an indication that he is a sex offender, with said notice to include a description of the crime, the location of the crime, plus his physical characteristics and current residential address. Of course, this begs the question of how one defines a “networking website”, though websites like Facebook already ban sex offenders from using their site.

The penalties for failing to disclose this information are outrageous, way worse than Florida’s penalties for failing to register as a sex offender. A first conviction under Louisiana’s new law carries a two year minimum mandatory prison sentence, with a max of ten years. A second conviction carries a minimum mandatory five year prison sentence, with a maximum of twenty years.

Look. If you think a sex offender is still a danger to the community–then continue the person’s probation until such time as you deemed them “safe” via their extensive sex offender counseling. If that still doesn’t make you happy, then there’s always the involuntary hospitalization actions under the Jimmy Ryce Act (here in Florida, at least–a whole other story for another day!). But, to continue to punish these citizens with new and cruel disclosure laws is immoral. One day, I hope our court system declares such regulations unconstitutional.

PREACHY MOMENT: Hey, you know that an article that starts with a Bible verse may get a little preachy. As a Christian, I’m offended by the way our laws treat sex offenders. In modern society, sex offenders are what Jesus would define as the “least of our brothers.” When Jesus said we should love our neighbor, he didn’t mean that we should keep them 2500 feet away.