This is not a movie review. It is, however, my reaction to a movie. A movie that could bring negative attention to all who have been convicted of a sex offense.
The movie is “Spotlight” which has just been released and has already been nominated as best picture by the Screen Actors Guild and may be nominated for an Academy Award.
The movie is about a small group of reporters at The Boston Globe newspaper. The movie is also about a multi-decade cover up by the Catholic Church. Finally, the movie is about dozens of priests known to have molested hundreds of children.
My concerns about this movie stem from the belief that those who watch the movie will miss its primary point, that is, newspaper reporters uncovered and reported on a cover-up conducted by the Catholic Church. My concern with the movie is that its viewers will focus upon the harm done to the children of Boston and demand harsher penalties for all registered citizens regardless of where they live, the offense they committed and/or the amount of time that has elapsed since that offense occurred.
Registered citizens today already face a plethora of penalties that no one should have to endure – broken families, unemployment, homelessness and vigilante violence.
There is growing recognition of these penalties by public officials in a few states. For example, a recent decision by the highest court in Massachusetts recognized a long list of penalties experienced by registered citizens such as increased registration requirements, harsher penalties for failure to register, ineligibility for federal housing and extensive dissemination of registrants’ private information. The court also noted that registered citizens face profound humiliation and community wide ostracism.
While progress is being made in some states, there are other states where the opposite is true. For example, a town in Texas has proposed a law that would require all registered citizens who live in that town to post a large sign in their yard stating “A registered sex offender lives here”.
And in our state, state senator Sharon Runner is criticizing the wise and humane decisions of the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to exempt many registered citizens on parole form residency restrictions. She is vowing to move forward a bill she introduced earlier this year that would overturn a decision by the CA Supreme Court that recognized residency restrictions are inhumane and violate the state Constitution.
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