Hey, NJ — ‘Dead Kids Make Bad Laws’
"Dead kids make bad laws"
The above quote isn’t mine, and I would give attribution except that I don’t know who originally said it, but it is so true. Dead kids usually make for emotional, broad brush laws that do more harm than good. I know that in NJ we feel proud of ourselves that we are the state that pioneered the sex-offender registry called Megan’s Law, the law that arose from tragedy in 1994, when 7-year-old Megan Kanka of Hamilton Township was raped and killed by Jesse Timmendeques, a neighbor. But anytime tragedy befalls a child, we have to think very carefully before we come up with some law that might potentially save “just one child” but also might potentially ruin many, many lives (as has happened in the case of the Megan’s law registry).
So why do you hear so many bad laws named after children who have passed away? Because these laws are generally an emotional knee-jerk reaction when people are distraught and desperate. Many times they are rushed through the legislature and have not been thought through. This is why the New Jersey Supreme Court seems to be backpedaling a little bit by allowing some people who committed sex offenses as youths to be removed from the list.
So some people convicted of sex crimes as youths will thankfully no longer be on the offender list for life. The state Supreme Court has ruled that people convicted of aggravated sexual assault and related crimes before their 18th birthday can now petition a court to be removed from the state's registry of about 16,000 sex offenders. About 4,300 people convicted of the most serious sex crimes are in the public Megan's Law database.
We are now realizing that the likelihood of sex offenders to commit new sex crimes is pretty low. Turns out that people convicted as youths have very little chance of re-offending, especially after undergoing therapy.
This stupid system incites unnecessary violence and vigilante justice and often just punishes innocent people due to a past mistake. The recidivism rate for sex offenders is 5.3%, the lowest among any type of criminal. "Sex offenders" include, but are not limited to streaking, statutory rape, sexting, hiring a prostitute, prostitution, bestiality, incest, date rape, rape, and child molestation.
Is a man who has a relationship with his 16 yr old girlfriend, at age 23, a rapist? This law also doesn't take into account lies girls tell to get boys 18, or 19 to sleep with them, claiming to be 17 when they are in fact 15. Nor does it distinguish a person guilty of sleeping with their underage by a day girlfriend in a consensual sexual relationship. Yes, he’s on the same list as a serial rapist. Yeah, different tier, but are YOU gonna really check the tier??
While I understand the zeal to protect children from true sex crimes, Megan’s Law unfortunately doesn’t do it most of the time. It does, however ruin lives, most of the time.
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