I thought it started out as a good news article from The Exponent Telegram in West Virginia. A judge was reading sex offender rules to a defendant at a sentencing hearing. The author of the article correctly noted that defendants at a sentencing hearing are focused on “sentencing” and probably not absorbing much of the information the judge is providing them regarding the requirements surrounding life on the registry.
I had to agree that newcomers to the registry should be informed of what is expected of them, their life as they knew it is going to change and the rules and requirements they will need to learn are many.
West Virginia’s legislature rational is that if defendants are advised of the rules in a court of law they can’t come back later and say they were never informed of the registry’s requirements. They can’t use an illiteracy defense somewhere down the road. I wonder, has an illiteracy defense been used very often by registrants or does the author assume that there are a lot of illiterate registrants?
In this particular hearing it took 14 minutes for the judge to read the rules to the defendant. Now, if the judge covered all the questionable gray areas that the registry encompasses, let’s just say, he’d probably still be reading! While 14 minutes may cover the “written registry rules”, the unwritten rules are endless and always expanding. So I’m certain even the judge would have difficulty knowing and explaining all there is to know.
Like I said, I thought it was going to be a good article, but then it took a turn, as media representation of sex offenders usually does, to the most bizarre and unsubstantiated “facts” regarding offenders. I had to email the author and managing editor, Matt Harvey, and ask him what gives?
His first comment that I took issue with was that “most taxpayers aren’t going to shed a tear for sex offenders, what should be of interest to them is what this (incarcerated sex offender) will mean to their bottom line.”
I reminded Mr. Harvey that REGISTRANTS ARE TAXPAYERS TOO! They and their families are also concerned about the bottom line.