Sex Offender Laws: Fair for Some, Draconian for Others

In my previous posting to this site, “Is it Automatically OK to Hate Sex Offenders?,” I discussed the various types of sexual offenders, noting that some are more likely to respond to treatment and less likely to reoffend than others. In this follow-up article, I discuss the fact that even though not all sex offenders are created equally, they are uniformly subjected to the same highly punitive and largely inflexible sentencing laws. Full article

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The author of the linked article above has now missed two opportunities to begin an important conversation on sex offense laws. Both articles contain some nice bullet points regarding the realities of sex offense legislation, but neither escape bare minimum exploratory efforts. Most unsettling is his use of research findings from seven years ago and older.


So what can be done, you might ask? For starters, those of us who work in the mental health profession, especially those of us who work with sexual trauma survivors (as I do), can learn the truth about the different types of offenders.

End quote.

I find the above claim to be at best misguided and at worst dangerous. Learning the truth about someone or a group is rarely best accomplished by not interacting with them. The only truths learned from working with trauma survivors is about those individuals and their perceptions of those who put them under trauma. Learning about the affected individuals is important to grasp how, when, where, what, and why they ended up experiencing whatever they did. Although it is equally vital to ask the same questions of the person or persons acting as they did. Neither side might be 100% factual in their telling of everything that occurred before, during, and after, however as more and more similar events are known from all sides certain things might be easier to clarify or disregard.

Interestingly enough, prior to the internet scare of the 90’s, possession of child porn was a misdemeanor in many jurisdictions. It still is in some. In Florida, it went from being a 1st Degree Misdemeanor, which by law cannot draw a sentence of more than 364 days, to a 3rd Degree Felony, which is capped at 5 years. This happened about the same time 1997 that Florida significantly enhanced it’s offender registry laws with provisions like residency and driving restrictions and curfews on sex offender probationers and the internet registry website. Now one could argue that this change in the law, like others, wasn’t supported by facts if for no other reason, the internet greatly increased the likelihood that someone might “casually” possess certain types of contraband porn. In Florida, they prosecute even if they find deleted porn and lord help you if you looked at it more than one time. That pretty much blows any defense that you deleted it immediately once you saw what it was. Not that this defense really works even though the law says a person must KNOWINGLY possess the contraband porn.