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“The government's War on Poverty has transformed poverty from a short-term misfortune into a career choice. ”     Harry Browne

October 21, 2007

More Sex Offender Insanity

by Doug Mataconis

Apparently Genarlow Wilson isn’t the only person caught up in the insanity of Georgia’s sex offender laws:

The state of Georgia regards 28-year-old Wendy Whitaker as such a threat to public safety that it posts her photo and address on the Internet, bans her from living near schools, churches and playgrounds and forbids her from working with children.

(…)

Eleven years ago, when she had just turned 17, Whitaker engaged in a single act of oral sex with a boy in her sophomore class on school property. That’s it.

Though less than two years separated the couple — the boy was about to turn 16 — Whitaker was arrested for sodomy, a charge to which she pleaded guilty and completed five years probation. However, that plea also means that Whitaker will serve a lifetime on the state’s sex-offender registry, placing her in the same category as truly dangerous people such as rapists and child molesters. It also imposes severe — some might argue unconscionable — limits on where she can live and work.

And, thanks to one of the most draconian sex offender registration systems in the country, getting on the list pretty much means your life is ruined:

For Whitaker, a full-time college student studying criminal justice, the law has meant that she and her husband of seven years had to leave their new house in Harlem, Ga., because it was near a mother’s morning-out program.

“This is a home we love,” she says in a written statement on how the law affected her life. “It has a white picket fence and big American flag outside.”

The couple also gave up attending Sunday services for fear of violating the provision against loitering near churches. Whitaker and her husband have now moved twice because of the law, while still paying the mortgage on their original home. She and her husband bunked with her brother-in-law for a time, but Whitaker was concerned that she would eventually be in violation of the law because her niece was about to start school and a school bus would be stopping near the house.

Jeffery York, 23, of Polk County, faces a similar predicament. He, too, was convicted of sodomy for having oral sex with a 15-year-old when he was 17. Because his home was near a school, he moved in with his grandmother last year. When it turned out that she lived within the 1,000-feet limit of a child-care center, York was forced to move again. He now lives in a camper van in the woods without running water or electricity. “I feel like my life is just stuck in the mud because of all the restrictions on me,” says York.

We can all agree, I think, on the wisdom of keeping tabs on offenders who have preyed on children. But the hysteria over this issue has led to a situations where people who are clearly not criminals are being treated as such and lives are being ruined because of what was clearly just the product of youthful indiscretion.

Consider for example, these incidents related in a Washington Post column:

In December 2006, a 4-year-old boy in Waco, Tex., was punished with an in-school suspension after a female aide accused him of sexual harassment. According to a television station there, the child had hugged the woman while getting on the bus, and she later complained to administrators at La Vega Primary School that the child had put his face in her chest. School officials later agreed to remove sexual references but refused to expunge the “inappropriate physical contact” charge from the boy’s school record.

(…)

Last December, a kindergartner was accused of sexual harassment after he pinched a classmate’s bottom at Lincolnshire Elementary School in Hagerstown, according to the local paper, the Herald-Mail. The charge will remain on his record until he enters middle school. “It’s important to understand a child may not realize that what he or she is doing may be considered sexual harassment, but if it fits under the definition, then it is, under the state’s guidelines,” school spokeswoman Carol Mowen told the Herald-Mail. “If someone has been told this person does not want this type of touching, it doesn’t matter if it’s at work or at school, that’s sexual harassment.”

And these are children were talking about here. Does anyone even think they knew that they were doing something that made someone uncomfortable ?

I’m not sure whether all this is being driven by prudery or paranoia but, either way, innocent people are being hurt in the process.

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4 Comments

  1. Visit my blog today, it’s all about this insanity:

    http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/

    Comment by ZMan — October 21, 2007 @ 4:22 pm
  2. I agree with this editorial.
    The laws in Georgia and the remaining part of America are being changed without any due process of law.Judges have no right to comment because the rules are set by the DA and the Legislature. The only thing that can be done is to build many more jails and hope the next generation can change the laws back to the way they where.

    Comment by john — October 22, 2007 @ 4:31 pm
  3. Visit this blog entry:

    http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/2007/10/children-ruined-by-these-laws.html

    To see the kids, in age groups, who are being ruined for life due to these laws.

    04 years old
    05 years old
    08 years old
    09 years old
    10 years old
    11 years old
    12 years old
    13 years old
    14 years old
    15 years old
    16 years old
    17 years old
    18 years old

    Comment by ZMan — October 22, 2007 @ 11:18 pm
  4. In my opinion this Nation should be embarrassed about what they are doing to children, with laws made to protect children. The Government wants it both ways. Therefore, you as a parent or grandparent need to teach even the little ones all the rules of no touching and turn them into little Robots. First you need to assure them that if anyone touches them inappropriately they can tell that the person did so. The reason you want to tell them that is because many will tell them if they tell, they will kill them, their dog, their parents, etc. Please make it perfectly clear that if a person tells them that it will not happen. Then you have to tell these young children not to ever pinch a butt, touch a breast, touch anyone anywhere inappropriately. No nasty name calling that they may have heard from older children, no hugging other children or teachers. Always keep their hands to themselves. That is what I mean about a Robot. The next age up needs to be told the same things. Those in high school need to be told the laws and the age of consent for their states and what will happen if they disobey those laws and someone tells they did or they get caught in the act. There are some states that will Prosecute both children if they are under the age of consent. Therefore, they become an offender and a victim. What can I say, most of our legislators are missing a screw in their brains. Please talk to your children. That is the best way to save them. Also, if your child walks to and from school, you need to walk with them. The best thing would be for all the neighborhood to take turns since most families have both parents working. If they catch a bus, you need to stand there and wait on the bus with them. If it makes you late for work and your boss gets mad tell him or her that your children come first and you will get your work done in spite of it.

    Betty Price, Executive Director
    Roar for Freedom
    http://www.roarforfreedom.com

    Comment by Betty Price — October 23, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

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