The recent passing and then instantaneous appeal of Megan’s Law International has me wondering about the kind of society sex offenders are released into after serving their time in prison.
There is the ever present registry. Failure to register as a sex offender will put you right back in prison. It’s society’s way of continued punishment for a crime that’s already been paid for.
Upon release from prison, sex offenders are required to pay a fee, update their driver’s license to include a sex offender signifier. In some states the markings are said to be “so discreet” only a police officer could identify it, while in others the markings are visible enough that the local grocery clerk or receptionist at your doctor’s office knows you are a sex offender.
Offenders traveling or vacationing in Arizona as well as other states for more than 10 days are required to actually register as a sex offender in that state. Failure to do so is a Class 4 felony. So much for 2 week vacations!
Some states allow sex offenders to pick up their children at school or to attend parent-teacher conferences but only if they’ve notified the school ahead of time that they are an offender. Will the school gossip mongers keep that confidential?
The list goes on and on. There seems to be no end to the rules and limits set for sex offenders once they are “Free” from prison. The sad part is, everyday someone, somewhere is trying to enforce even more rules and regulations to prevent those who have already served their time from just living a life .
If the laws don’t change, if sex offenders aren’t given the same chance in society as every other person who serves their sentence , gets out and is Free, then are sex offenders ever really out of prison? The bars, barbed-wire and guards are gone, but in their place is a society that re-enforces the very isolation and stigmatization that they experienced in prison .
We as a society can do better, I’m sure.