Month: April 2011

Life on the (Sex Offender) List

Does publicly posting names of convicted sex offenders actually reduce the number of sexual offenses?

You could say it started with three small-town Minnesota boys riding their bikes to a convenience store on an October night in 1989. As they were returning home on a dark stretch of road, a man stepped out of the darkness holding a gun. He told them to lie face down on the ground and then directed two of them — Trevor Wetterling, age 10, and Aaron Larson, 11, to run into the woods and not look back or he’d shoot them. That was the last that they, or anyone, would see of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling.

Learning From History Part 1

“Germany, May 15, 1871 – First Version of Paragraph 175 – Unnatural fornication, whether between persons of the male sex or of humans with beasts, is to be punished by imprisonment; a sentence of loss of civil rights may also be passed.”
What was the outcome of this law that was passed so long ago?

When Hitler came to power he “broadened the law so that the courts could pursue any “lewd act” whatsoever, even one involving no physical contact… leading to the possibility of punishment for acts as mild as kissing…. Convictions multiplied by a factor of ten to about 8,000 per year…. Furthermore, the Gestapo could transport suspected offenders to concentration camps without any legal justification at all (even if they had been acquitted or already served their sentence in jail)….Thus, between 5,000 and 15,000 sex offenders were forced into concentration camps, where they were identified by the pink triangle. The majority of them died there. In contradistinction to normal police, the Gestapo were authorized to take sex offenders into preventive detention.”

Today in the U.S. we face similar circumstances. True, some refuse to see the similarities between the modern U.S. and Nazi Germany, nonetheless they are there.

Learning From History Part 2

“Stocks, Pillory, Pranger are devices used in the medieval times as a form of physical punishment involving public humiliation. The stocks partially immobilized its victims and they were often exposed in a public place such as the site of a market to the scorn of those who passed by. Since the purpose was to punish offenders against the standards of conduct of the time, anybody could assault, revile or throw filth at the victim.”

Today in America we have a similar device; it is called the Sex Offender Registry. The SOR is a widely debated form of punishment. Even the fact that it is punishment is debated by many. On the other hand politicians often use the term punish when speaking about the registry.