Here’s an example of a Bill being passed “before” it was thoroughly thought through.
On July 1, 2020, Mississippi Senate Bill 2009, also known as Carly’s Law, was passed. The Bill prohibits future contact with the crime victim by a convicted “sex offender”; and for related purposes. Here’s a summary of the Bill.
Section 1. 1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful for a person required to register as a sex offender under section 45-33-25 to commit any of the following actions with respect to the victim of the offense triggering the duty to register under this chapter:
- Threatening, visit, assault, molest, abuse, injure or otherwise interfere with the victim.
- Follow the victim, including at the victim’s workplace
- Harass the victim
- Contact the victim by telephone, written communication or electronic means
- Enter or remain present at the victim’s residence, school or place of employment when the victim is present.
The Bill goes on to allow for an exception to Section 1. if the court, at the request of the victim or the victim’s parent, guardian or conservator, enters an order allowing contact with the victim. The court would then determine whether reasonable grounds for the victim to fear any future contact with the defendant no longer existed.
Those violating the actions set forth in the Bill would be subject to arrest, a fine of not more than $5000 and imprisonment of 5-10 years.
This seems to be the standard “for the safety of our children, the protection of the public” kind of bill, but there in an inherent problem with it.
Part A) mentions “threaten, visit, assault, molest, abuse, injure and otherwise interfere.”
Part D) mentions contact, written, phone or electronic means.
Part E) mentions entering or remaining present at their residence.
We know that sexual offenses sometimes occur within a family. Long term sex offender treatment plans often involve future family reunification. Reunification might very well include “visiting”, “phone contacts” and possibly “residing” within the same residence at some time in the future. This Bill, while making a quasi-provision for reunification, puts that determination into the court’s hands, which then becomes just another set of legal encumbrances with courts, attorneys and fees for registrants and their families.
If a registrant shouldn’t have any future contact with their victim, shouldn’t that be somehow included as part of that one person’s sentence rather than in an “after-the-fact” Bill that would affect all registrants regardless of their individual circumstances?
Punitive blanket-Bills such as this, Bills that penalize all registrants and, in some cases, the very families they are attempting to reunite with, need to be given more careful consideration before they are passed. Better yet, perhaps we don’t need these “after-the fact” Bills at all.