By David Beck-Brown
If you were to drive to the top of a mountain for a better view of a massive forest fire, would you be labeled an arsonist? If you were to see someone tagging a neighbor’s fence, would you be labeled a vandal? If you were an elected official, who admitted to lusting in your heart, would you be branded now (and forever) as a sex offender—forced to register for the rest of your life as a sexual predator?
None of the onlookers in these examples participated in any acts leading to criminal activity. The person witnessing the forest fire never set off a flare into the dry woods or irresponsibly let a campfire get out of control. The person witnessing the fence vandalism never purchased spray paint. Nor did Jimmy Carter (as far as I know) ever physically embrace any woman for whom he lusted after. The participants in these examples were merely observers. Curiosity is a part of human nature. However, curiosity does not a criminal make. Nor does a thought equal a crime in America. Or does it?
George Orwell’s novel 1984 and Ray Brandbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 depict a futuristic police state featuring the “thought police,” which command control of its citizens. Helicopter surveillances and loudspeakers warning a community about criminal activities in the neighborhood were once fictional. Residents would rush out of their homes, go to the streets, then watch and point to the criminal offenders. In California today, how is our treatment of sexual offenders any different? Let’s be real. Child molestation is a hideous crime and in the hierarchy of prison life, molesters must be protected. Left on their own, they may be killed by other inmates.
Jeff was on parole for committing multiple DUI’s. He has a problem. Jeff downloaded a website with (reportedly) underage woman performing sex acts and was slammed as a sex offender.
Under Jessica’s law, Penal Code 290, Sub Section 311.11, Jeff must register in California as a sex offender. His movement is monitored and severely limited. He can no longer approach within 2000 feet of a public park, school, daycare center or number of places. Because of these parameters, he is not allowed to drive a bus or taxi and he is restricted from most housing. Due to these harsh boundaries, many people like Jeff, who are labeled sex offenders, have to share a single residence. However, in Orange County these housing units are being eliminated, thereby forcing the inhabitants to live on the streets.
Jeff is bound by law to wear a cyber scarlet letter that pinpoints his residence. It also displays his image and private history on many websites. Virtually - Jeff has an “I am a sex offender” moniker permanently tattooed on his identity by our Big Brother judicial system.
Anyone sentenced under the sex offender category gets slam dunked with the full force of the law - whether for committing actual rape, molestation, physical lewd acts, such as touching, viewing, thinking or possessing images. There is little distinction (or scale) regarding Jessica’s Law.
Public resources need to be directed to real offenders. Lock them up, monitor their activities, but let’s stop abusing the law by labeling all offenders as the same.
“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” Pastor Martin Niemoller0.