Sex offenders… what to do?

sex offenders


Commit for life, sentence longer, treat better???

It’s a good question about how to “deal” with sex offenders.

There’s substantial evidence that the worst sex offenders are likely to repeat their crimes unless and until they are stopped from doing so.  The problem is that we seem to be punishing them for stuff they haven’t done yet — and, we just don’t do that in this country.

Dream about robbing a bank — even take a good look at a bank and figure out how to do it — well, unless and until you actually put your “plan” in motion, you can’t be detained for it — even if you’ve robbed a lot of banks in the past…

Just an aside, a true story — I know a bank robber… well, I knew him while he was robbing banks AND taking philosophy courses.  He got arrested just before finals.  I ended up being the only one to turn in a paper at the end of the semester… the only one in the whole CLASS. I ran into him when I was finishing my grad work — he was on education release signing up for classes to complete the semester he was in when he got arrested… no kidding… 

Anyway, there is no doubt that the crimes sex offenders commit are serious.  They hurt real people, innocent people… and there is no way to tell “for sure” that therapy alone will ever work for these folks.  Some men have volunteered for chemical castration, but it seems to me that having a judge order it is cruel and unusual punishment.

Some cities and states have very strict rules about where ANY registered sex offender may live.  As a result — at least in some areas (like Connecticut  I think)– the sex offender is in a horrible bind.  They usually can’t live with their families or a friend because there are schools, churches, playgrounds, and bus stops within 1/4 mile of their homes.  IF they find someplace to live and a family moves in near them, they have to move.  They also can’t be homeless and comply with their probation/parole requirements.  They must have a job to be in compliance, but they can’t ride public transportation to get there — and.. who is likely to hire someone with a sex-crime on their record?

On the other hand, the only way to seemingly keep people safe from the worst of them is to keep them locked up or civilly committed long past the standard sentences.  Those sentences are often longer than we sentence murders…

If the sentence shows how seriously we take the crime, is being a sex-offender WORSE than committing murder?  This makes me think (no big shock here) about how the patriarchy sees the crimes — murder is killing an innocent, but a sex-crime is taking away the sex-object from another man…  (well, maybe not — but, that’s probably how Andrea Dwarkin would put it — if you need to know more, read “Intercourse”).

It’s a puzzle… I’m glad I don’t have to make these decisions… what do you think?


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Filed under Applied Ethics

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