Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”     Benjamin Franklin,    Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

December 1, 2008

Sex Offender Insanity

by Doug Mataconis

I’ve written several times in the past about the manner in which America’s sex offender registry laws have led to insane, some might even say unjust, outcomes. There was the six-year old boy in Virginia who will go through the rest of his school career tagged as a sexual offender. The 15 year old Ohio teenager who was charged with distribution of child pornography for sending a nude picture of herself to her friends. Last week, I wrote about a 24 year old woman in Georgia who could lose her house because she was declared a sex offender for having oral sex with her boyfriend when she was a teenager. And, then, of course, there’s the case of Genarlow Wilson, who spent was sentenced to 10 years in prison for having oral sex with his girlfriend.

Well, the insanity continues.

Consider this story of a 16 year old who’s life is essentially ruined because he did something teenagers do every day:

When Ricky was 16, he went to a teen club and met a girl named Amanda, who said she was the same age. They hit it off and were eventually having sex. At the time Ricky thought it was a pretty normal high school romance.

Two years later, Ricky is a registered sex offender, and his life is destroyed.

Amanda turned out to be 13. Ricky was arrested, tried as an adult, and pleaded guilty to the charge of lascivious acts with a child, which is a class D felony in Iowa. It is not disputed that the sex was consensual, but intercourse with a 13-year-old is illegal in Iowa.

Ricky was sentenced to two years probation and 10 years on the Iowa online sex offender registry. Ricky and his family have since moved to Oklahoma, where he will remain on the state’s public registry for life.

Being labeled a sex offender has completely changed Ricky’s life, leading him to be kicked out of high school, thrown out of parks, taunted by neighbors, harassed by strangers, and unable to live within 2,000 feet of a school, day-care center or park. He is prohibited from going to the movies or mall with friends because it would require crossing state borders, which he cannot do without permission from his probation officer. One of Ricky’s neighbors called the cops on him, yelled and cursed at him, and videotaped him every time he stepped outside, Ricky said.

“It affects you in every way,” he said. “You’re scared to go out places. You’re on the Internet, so everybody sees your picture.”

His mother, Mary, said the entire family has felt the ramifications of Ricky being labeled a sex offender. His younger brother has been ridiculed at school and cannot have friends over to the house; his stepfather has been harassed; the parents’ marriage has been under tremendous pressure; and strangers used to show up at their door to badger the family. One neighbor came to the house and told Mary he wasn’t going to leave them alone until they took their “child rapist” away, so they moved, she said.

Ricky’s family should probably be thankful they don’t live in Florida, though, because they’d probably be living under a bridge:

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) — The sparkling blue waters off Miami’s Julia Tuttle Causeway look as if they were taken from a postcard. But the causeway’s only inhabitants see little paradise in their surroundings.

Five men — all registered sex offenders convicted of abusing children — live along the causeway because there is a housing shortage for Miami’s least welcome residents.

“I got nowhere I can go!” says sex offender Rene Matamoros, who lives with his dog on the shore where Biscayne Bay meets the causeway.

The Florida Department of Corrections says there are fewer and fewer places in Miami-Dade County where sex offenders can live because the county has some of the strongest restrictions against this kind of criminal in the country.

Florida’s solution: house the convicted felons under a bridge that forms one part of the causeway.

The Julia Tuttle Causeway, which links Miami to Miami Beach, offers no running water, no electricity and little protection from nasty weather. It’s not an ideal solution, Department of Corrections Officials told CNN, but at least the state knows where the sex offenders are.

Now, it’s likely the case that the men living under the causeway are dangerous offenders, but where’s the logic in a law that is so draconian in restricting where they live that it encourages them to drop out of the system so that nobody will know where they are ? And where’s the logic in extending the sex offender registry system to offenses that aren’t really offenses at all, but rather just teenagers being teenagers ?

Steve Verdon makes this point:

Making them register as sex offenders and destroying their lives is simply stupid. And even for actual sex offenders releasing them then passing laws that make it impossible to live anywhere in society is just mind boggling stupid. If they are still such a danger to society, then lock them the Hell up. Don’t release convicted criminals who are so highly likely to re-offend back into society and set up a monitoring system that is so harsh it actually encourages them to avoid registering as a sex offender.

While at the same time ruining the lives of essentially innocent people.

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12 Comments

  1. Thank-you so much for printing Ricky’s story. Mary is a good friend of and also the COO of this web site
    http://www.cfcoklahoma.org

    Comment by MSLGWCEO — December 1, 2008 @ 4:10 pm
  2. http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com

    First, let me get this out. I am totally against ANY form of abuse to any human being. And I believe anyone who murders another human being should be in prison for the rest of their life (until they die). I do not believe in the death penalty for anyone. Also, I believe that once a person has been in and out of prison and has served their probation and parole, done everything required of them, and what was signed on the “contract” when they took the plea, none of this should be required of them, none of it. The state cannot tear up a contract like this, which they are basically doing, it’s unconstitutional. Many people, if they had known they would be faced with all this, they would have NOT taken a plea deal. And the courts are very aware of this and this is why they made it retroactive; thus violating ex-post facto laws! They should be allowed to get on with their life as if nothing happened. I’m not saying for it to be removed from their record, but, the crime should be removed from public view and background checks, they should not have any more restrictions, shaming, etc. If they commit another crime, then they face a lot more punishment, like everything else is treated.

    When are we going to move away from being “TOUGH ON CRIME” and move to being “SMART ON CRIME?” If you locked every single s*x offender up, at this moment, or killed every one of them, do you think the problem is over? No, more will follow.

    I’ve heard many people say “If these laws protect one child, then they are worth it!” And at the same time, if millions are tortured, it’s ok. Offenders are losing their homes, jobs, families, and children and cannot find new jobs or homes due to the insanity of these laws. The families are also made into outcasts for associating with or being related to an ex-offender and their own children are harassed and bullied at schools due to a family member being an ex-offender.

    I know these laws are a sensitive issue, but as all issues, they must be discussed and we must come up with a valid solution that will work. The laws, as they exist now, DO NOT WORK! People are always saying they cause unintended consequences. These laws have been on the books for years now, so nothing is unintended anymore. When are we going to set aside fear, hate, rage and anger and come up with a real solution? History has proven that these feelings NEVER get good laws passed but only create bad ones that punish and torture many people. These knee-jerk reactions to a slim number of high-profile crimes, like Adam Walsh and Jessica Lunsford, MUST STOP!

    When an ex-offender is forced to move from his/her home, thus having to sell it, cannot find another home within the law due to the residency “buffer” zones, get fired from their jobs due to being on the registry, cannot find a new job due to being on the registry, their husband/wife lose their jobs due to a significant other being on the registry, their children lose their friends and are harassed and bullied in school due to a family member being on the registry, thus destroying the children’s lives, ex-offenders are forced into homelessness and to live under bridges, harassed by police, neighbors and probation/parole officers, have to wear “I’m a s*x offender T-shirt” or have a neon green license plate on ALL their cars, have “s*x offender” on their drivers license and forced to renew their licenses every year, forced from shelters during tornadoes or hurricanes, cannot give blood at some places due to being discriminated against for being on the s*x offender registry, denied housing due to being on the registry, signs placed in their yards inviting harassment and ridicule from the neighbors, forced to move when the neighbors start picketing outside the ex-offenders home, the list is endless.

    I THINK THIS IS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT, BEYOND THE EXTREME!

    Comment by SexOffenderIssues — December 1, 2008 @ 6:05 pm
  3. There is a power granted to government that allows these unjust punishments to be lifted: the power of governors or the president to pardon people convicted of crimes where the conviction is legal but manifestly unjust.

    Unfortunately, this power is not really used for its intended purpose. It is far more expedient to allow people to rot in jail than to risk one’s political career by turning people loose.

    Comment by tarran — December 2, 2008 @ 6:47 am
  4. Not only children but the public registries are sweeping up people from 70 years ago. It’s time for the public to demand these registries be repealed as they are doing more harm than good. It is impossible to tell who is what.

    “The man, fell in love with the woman. He was 18, she was 14, 70 YEARS AGO. They have been happily married ever since but that all may change if the United States Federal Government gets to have their way with them.”

    http://cfcoklahoma.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=252:teen-love-turns-to-tragedy-sex-may-send-them-to-prison&catid=38:news-articles&Itemid=80

    Comment by MSLGWCEO — December 2, 2008 @ 11:55 am
  5. All this is just a Game to the Elite. They intend to have Every Human Labeled with some kind of Tag that will destroy their lives, all in short order, by passing more and more intrusive laws that make normal people CRIMINALS, Over night.

    I have a friend who has just become a Sexual Offender. He was at a night club, and met a nice looking lady, they had a few drinks, and went for a drive. They got Hot and Heavy in his car, when a Cop came up and made them show their ID’s.

    Well, what do you know, this girl had a Fake ID, and was actually Not 18 as she told my friend, but 12 years old.

    Well, my friend was Arrested Right Then and There for a Sexual Offense against a Minor, and the young girl was allowed to go home with her parents.

    My friend was in jail till his hearing, where he was Labeled, and then was kept in jail for a short while and released. Later that year, he was out on the fourth of July, watching the Fireworks, when he was spotted playing with a Laser, and Arrested again as soon as he showed his ID, for being in a place he was not allowed to go because of the children. He was thrown in jail for 6 months without a hearing, he lost his Home, his Car, his Job, and most all his things inside his house.

    He was then released, and told he could not go within 2000 feet of any schools or other places children might be. He had no place to go, but to his sisters house, which unfortunately was less then 2000 feet from a school. He was arrested again, and released a week later, and had no choice but to live in a Tent in the woods with other Sex Offenders. And because he had No Permanent Residence, he was in violation of his Parole, so he was arrested again, and is now serving time being bussed back and forth between State Prisons.

    And all this because of some young girl that wanted to feel like an adult, my friends life is now Rueigned forever, and the Girl, was never arrested for her Bogus ID, nor was anything ever said about it. When he told the Judge his story, the Judge told him, “Well, You should have checker her out more carefully before you had sex with her” Like he really had some kind of way to do a Background check on someone he met in a bar.

    The LAW’s of this country are becoming more and more Intrusive, and will soon make Criminals out of All of us, unless we Band Together and Take Back the System by Force if Necessary.

    It’s Not going to stop, till all you who are reading this are one day Labeled a Criminal for some Bogus Crap.

    Comment by Disgruntled — December 3, 2008 @ 7:46 am
  6. And to the person that wrote the above, called Sexoffenderissues, I want to tell you that for the last 70 years, the Constitution and Bill of rights has been NULL and VOID. Read it for yourselves
    Cornell University has the Full Text of Title 5 US Code, where they basically Created a New Form of Government, and gave the Power to Regulate Every Individuals lives with Rules and Regulations, instead of the Constitution. The power was given to ALL Courts, and ALL Members of Congress. WHY? Because in 1933, the Government went Bankrupt because of the Federal Reserve Act, and the Bankers who Own the Federal Reserve, took possession and control of the Power of the Government at that time. The Federal Reserve is a PRIVATE BANKING Company, that LOANS Money to the Government with Interest (National Debt)

    So now you know WHY it’s SO Easy for Congress to Pass UNCONSTITUTIONAL Laws on the people.

    It’s time for a Second Civil War, or sooner or later, we will ALL Be Labeled as Criminals.

    Comment by Disgruntled — December 3, 2008 @ 7:59 am
  7. My Aunt and Uncle were married 40+ years ago when she was 17 and HE was 14. He was working full time in a coal mine.

    Still happily married.

    Comment by Rob — December 3, 2008 @ 8:03 am
  8. Disgruntled, you know what would make your argument more persuasive? MORE CAPITALIZED WORDS.

    Comment by tarran — December 3, 2008 @ 8:03 am
  9. I have come to the conclusion that it is useless to fight to have such laws repealed or changed but rather to support extending the application of these badly-written laws to the most innocent of behaviors. If more people are affected by these badly-written laws, more people will care about changing said laws. As it stands, enough people don’t care about these poorly-written and poorly-applied laws because enough people haven’t been affected by them. Life is going to suck for these kids who’ve not done anything but act like kids because adults can’t use their brains, but that is the price of progress.

    Comment by Justin Bowen — December 3, 2008 @ 4:12 pm
  10. My kids are never allowed outside again.

    That’s probably what it is going to come down to if crap laws like these are allowed to continue. When “kids”, and I mean tweens and teens are involved, this kind of stuff should be handled on a case by case basis.

    There is no such thing as a one size fits all law. The last thing a horny boy and girl are thinking about is that they should check the sex laws on the internet before they get busy to insure they are old enough to do anything other than swap spit.

    I think these law makers forgot what it was like to be that age and don’t think about how much it would suck to have one of their kids go through that kind of hell for having oral sex. It’s enough to make you want to scream at the stupidity.

    Comment by Aimee — December 3, 2008 @ 4:57 pm
  11. [...] Sex Offender Insanity Liberty Papers ,December 02, 2008 When Ricky was 16, he went to a teen club and met a girl named Amanda, who said she was the same age. They hit it off and were eventually having sex. … [...]

    Pingback by Downturn paring college dreams - News Photo Library — December 3, 2008 @ 5:34 pm
  12. Well, after a whole week, we only raised $40.00 for Mary. Please read this article, “Blind Woman with 2 Children in Sever Financial Distress”

    http://cfcoklahoma.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=237%3Ablind-woman-with-2-children-in-sever-financial-distress&Itemid=1

    Comment by MSLGWCEO — December 4, 2008 @ 5:25 am

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