“They’re American citizens like the rest of us . . . except for the scarlet “ ‘SO.’ ”


By Lenore Skenazy…..

Say you slept with your girlfriend when you were a senior in high school and she was a freshman. That’s enough to get you labeled a sex offender in some states.

Or say you streaked across the football stadium buck naked in college, or urinated outside when you were drunk, or clicked on the photo of a naked 17-year-old.

Strange as it may seem, all these “crimes” have the same punishment in the end: After serving time, doing probation and/or paying a fine, the people who committed them get on the sex-offender registry.

And now, if the US House of Representatives approves an amended bill that the Senate passed just before Christmas, those citizens will have the words “Sex Offender” branded on their passport.

Kind of makes it hard to travel.

The motivation behind the International Megan’s Law is ostensibly to prevent sex tourism and trafficking. The problem is that the sex-offender label in no way reflects a person’s risk of re-offending — or even whether they ever committed what I’d consider an actual sex crime. (I don’t think of streakers as sex criminals. Do you?)

The general belief is that sex offenders have one of the highest recidivism rates around — that they get out of prison only to offend again. Surprisingly, the opposite is true. A report by the Bureau of Justice followed almost 10,000 sex offenders after their release from prison. It found that 5.3 percent were rearrested for a sex crime within three years. That means 95 percent of those labeled “sex offender” didn’t re-offend — a recidivism rate lower than for any other crime except murder.

There are almost 850,000 Americans on the Sex Offender Registry, up from 750,000 just a few years ago.

About a quarter of them got on the list when they were juveniles themselves, because young people have sex with other young people. Labeling all of these offenders’ passports means branding hundreds of thousands of citizens who won’t commit another sex crime.

That’s overkill.

It also means branding as sex offenders a whole swath of citizens whose offenses aren’t even considered crimes in the countries they’re trying to visit. For instance, I have a friend who had sex, once, with a 14-year-old when he was 19. If he had done this in Austria, Germany, Portugal or Italy, it wouldn’t have been a criminal act at all. The age of consent there is 14.

But here in America he went to prison — for nine years. He spent his 20s in a cell for one act of consensual sex between two teens, and now that he’s out, he remains on the Sex Offender Registry for life. What a country!

If my friend’s passport is stamped with “Sex Offender,” any country he approaches will assume he’s a monster trying to get in.

Oddly enough, that country won’t be alerted if a visitor has served time for, say, mugging old ladies. No one’s American passport will be stamped with “Drug Dealer” or “Drunk Driver” or even “First-Degree Murderer Who Used a Pitchfork”!

The only people our government intends to brand are the people who committed a sex crime, did their time and are now free. They’re American citizens like the rest of us . . . except for the scarlet “SO.” Read the full column at The New York Post.


someone outside of NARSOL

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3 Thoughts to ““They’re American citizens like the rest of us . . . except for the scarlet “ ‘SO.’ ””

  1. AvatarTamara Simpson

    That’s exactly why nothing will ever be done to change these laws because no one wants to defend someone who has been branded with the SO scarlet letters. It’s unconstitutional and ruining lives faster than I can type this message. I know first hand of someone who had consensual sex when he was young with his girlfriend and didn’t register on time was sent to prison and his status was upgraded from a one to a three simply because he didn’t register, misleading the public with the notices that he is a predator. He’s faced threats on his life, eviction from his home (when again puts him at risk for non registry because he has no address) this is terrible what the government is legally getting away with.

    1. AvatarConcerned wife and mother

      My husband was accused of possession of a few files of what they considered CP….. He got tired of the court dates, lies the lawyers fed him and got bullied into a plea…. He took all the necessary assessments, ordered by court and was told he would be booked as a sex offender for 10 years. Once he went to PD for registration they booked him as a preditor for life!!!!! I want to scream so loud about this horrid injustice but I am simply out of breath, unable to fight anymore! The courts are mocking us, the system is degrading us, destroying forever. And with a SO identifier it even becomes impossible to immigrate to another country once the probation is done! The registrants remain prisoners in their own country, have to PAY for humiliation $100 annually to be on the registry because someone said this is the way! What if they have no money, house or job? Do they seek them out and throw them in jail because they are unable to find housing or employment to pay to be harassed and endangered? I can’t believe noone had appealed to that!!!! Or does that mean that noone cares???

  2. Tamara with the law nobody win’s. They have a lock on all of it and they are ordained by God to do these criminal things. Its as if they are more of an Authority than the one that said thy shall not sin. When they sin…. set up these sex sting operations.. breaks God’s law and its perfectly ok since God gave them authority. So actually the sex offender holds’ the label for the rest of their life, that is a sad form of grace. But Governments won’t back down no matter what. I guess the best thing is to ge4t over it but it shame’s one and government doesn’t care. Seems like they have the right to do anything they want even entice and degrade others.

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