Last night, 20/20 had a special about a guy who went on the sex offender registry because at age 19 he slept with his 15 year old girlfriend. He had some legal issues over this and as a result, was not allowed to see his girlfriend until she was older. As soon as she turned 18 and they could see each other again, they got married.
While I don't really agree with 19 year olds sleeping with 15 year olds and think that it is wrong, I'm not sure if in cases like this, a lifetime sex offender registry sentence is appropriate. I know that I'm not worried about him hanging around the park and trying to pull my daughter into the back of some van for the purposes of molesting her. He's not interested in young children, he's not interested in hanging out in dark alleys waiting to attack the unsuspecting young lady walking by at night, he's just a guy who fell in love with someone who was at the time too young for him.
We had a guy on the sex offender registry that was on our street. I'm not sure if he's still there anymore, he might have died or something. He was a level 2 offender and did something with some preteens. That's all I know about him. Those are the guys that I'm worried about. I'm worried about guys that break into people's houses in the middle of the night. I'm not worried about a guy who had an underage girlfriend when he was 19 years old.
I might not go so far as to say that this guy should not have been punished at all, or that maybe putting him on the sex offender registry for a while wouldn't have been overdoing it, but perhaps we should think about reviewing certain sex offender cases after a certain length of time. Perhaps in cases where the "victim" was a consenting and willing participant, review the case in 5 years and take them off the list if it seems appropriate (like in this case). There probably should be a few more parameters, like if the victim was 12 or under they stay on there, but shouldn't we have a way to take people off the registry in certain cases?
There are other silly reasons that someone might get on the sex offender registry. Such as... a kindergartener kisses another girl in class and she claims sexual harrassment. Or a few 9 year olds are playing a game where everybody is slapping their friends on the butt. Or a teenager accidentally downloads child pornography on the computer without knowing it. I don't want to know about these people. They're not dangerous, and I don't think they belong on the sex offender registry. Review the case after a while and take them off.
Having non-dangerous people like this on the sex offender registry cheapens the whole registry. If you look at a map of sex offenders in my area, there are tons of them. Are they all dangerous criminals? How many of them do I need to worry about, and how many of them just ended up on the registry for being stupid and impulsive? I only want to know about the dangerous ones.
Unless they take him off the list, when he's 90 years old he's still going to be punished, in a way, for sleeping with his wife before they got married and because she was so young. I find that to be a little ridiculous.