Our View: Sex offender law helps balance safety and justice
Some of the changes were about doubling the number of times per year convicted sex offenders are required to register with law enforcement, and some dealt with ways in which some of the offenders can be relieved of the requirement to register altogether — such as an older offender who is living out his last years in a nursing home, or someone who was convicted of having consensual sex with an underage person, if the age difference was no more than four years. Exemptions may also be made for juvenile offenders after 25 years.
The increased requirement for registering not only increases the burden on the offenders, but also doubles the workload on those keeping tabs on the offenders.
Some of those commenting insist that most convicted offenders are not dangerous to others, and provide links to data that tend to support that argument. But even those numbers suggest that about 13 to 20 percent of child molesters reoffend, and 19 to 23 percent of rapists. While “most” don’t, those are still disturbingly high percentages.
Another mentioned the difficulty offenders have in finding employment and supporting themselves.
Also mentioned was an elderly man in Florida allegedly beaten to death because someone thought he was a sex offender in a tragic case of mistaken identity. The writer was one of several opposed to having registries.
States have online registries that allow people to check to see who and where registered sex offenders live based on name, city, zip code or county. Alabama’s registry can be found at http://dps.alabama.gov. At least one website, www.familywatchdog.us, offers an interactive map, based on the address entered that shows the residences of offenders in the area.
We think having those registries available can help people make better-informed decisions regarding safety in the community, but we are pleased to see exemptions being offered for some of the least dangerous offenders.