A number of stories recently have got me thinking about how we deal with people who commit a crime. First off is the phenomenon of teens sending naked pics to other teens, often using their mobile phone. I will not use the swanky new word the media has created for this phenomenon, because it makes me want to stab someone, but you can learn it for yourself in this pointless sensationalist story on MSNBC. There was a story in the Times or somewhere (I can't find it now) about a boy who is now on the sex crimes registry for life because he forwarded pics of his ex girlfriend (who was underage) on. Then, today, I heard about plans in the UK for a domestic abuse registry.

I think it goes without saying that I'm not a fan of child abuse or spouse abuse, but I'll say it anyway. Nevertheless, I'm concerned by the idea that we are now creating a situation where anyone who ever does something bad will be punished for the rest of their lives. We've already done it with felons in the US, and while I am very much keen on the idea of stamping out abuse of any kind, I'm not sure stigmatizing and marginalizing people for the rest of their lives is a functional solution.

Shelby commented:

I agree. And required disclaimer: not a fan of child or spousal abuse either, but laws like limiting where a convicted offender can live (x number of feet from a school, x number of feet from a park) just result in a whole lot of people basically having nowhere to live. And I'm not a fan of Megan's Law either. So you have a registry that tells you which of your neighbors are convicted sex offenders? Why not just teach your children not to go into anyone's house? Plus, every convicted sex offender was at one time an unconvicted sex offender, so a registry doesn't prevent you from being the first one. I think it all makes people feel better to believe that they can protect their child by knowing where the bad guys are, but the fact is that most children are abused by relatives or family friends--people they know, not Chester the Molestor who hangs out at the public park.

on Fri Mar 13 18:14:53 2009

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