The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Romeo and Juliet

I've had a serious problem with sex offender registries for some time. It's not that I don't support them- I believe them to be a very valuable tool (one of many) in assisting society in keeping safe. But, it's never a failsafe resolution to the problem of repeat offenders, and honestly- all to often the offenses aren't clearly explained, and the labels are nothing more than generic classifications for varies crimes that might be grouped together regardless of relevance to each other.

I don't want boy that mooned someone, wasting space on the same list that a serial child molester is on. Having the moon'er on there belittles the heinous nature of the child molesters crime. It just doesn't make sense. But, the laws don't always bend for cases that are an exception to the usual predator type of crimes.

Until now. Florida- the state with one of the best laid out sexual offender registries at least in terms of navigation, has a new law intended to help remove some offenders from the SOR. Starting in July, persons who were charged and convicted of certain crimes can apply to have their names removed from the database. The Romeo and Juliet law is meant for those who were convicted of having teenage sexual relationships:

The victim in the case must be between 14 and 17, a willing participant in the sexual activity and no more than four years younger than the offender. The offense must be the only sex crime on the offender's record.

I know, at some point there is going to be someone who uses this new law to have themselves removed from the list only to turn around later and commit another sexual crime. I know. But, I also know that there are quiet a few teenagers out there that can't seem to get the concept of "if you just wait, you won't be looking at jail time dude" either.

By law, criminal records of 18 year olds are open to the public anyway, so it's not like the entire conviction will be wiped away. You can still pull court history of the 18 year old your 17 year old is dating. And, although it's a little harder and a little more time consuming... it's fair. Most of these young kids don't take the time to think about their actions- right or wrong, and I honestly don't think that slapping them on a list with the likes of serial rapists and child molesters and those who have been caught with thousands of child porn images is a fitting punishment. It's overboard. And, before you begin giving me the "but..." story on why I'm wrong here... think back to when you were a teen. Think about the people you dates, the people your friends dated... and now imagine just how many of them might be on a SOR now, had we been as harsh about teenage sex as we are now.