Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why not just tattoo their foreheads and be done with it?

Drivers licenses are the wrong place to try to solve unrelated social problems, and here's a good example why.

On Monday, the House Public Safety Committee will hear legislation - HB 1091 by Rep. Tan Parker - that would identify sex offenders as such on their drivers licenses. How will this prevent sex crimes, exactly? Does anyone really think a sex offender will show their victim their personal identification before assaulting or molesting them?

The goal of this bill and much of other legislation aimed at sex offenders these days isn't to protect the public so much as to impose permanent pariah status on those convicted of sex crimes. Many people might agree with that goal, but in practice the labels are sometimes unfairly applied to lesser offenses, and the recent string of DNA exonerations has revealed quite a few actually innocent people who'd been falsely convicted are also harmed by such quasi-official shunning policies.

What's more, as a practical matter, if sex offenders can't find any place to live, work, or even shop, this state-sponsored scarlet letter makes the public less safe because the risk is they'll give up trying to do the right thing and start committing the offenses that got them in trouble in the first place. Why does every store clerk who takes a check need to know somebody is on the sex offender list? IMO that would create more problems than it solves.

Unless you prefer more unlicensed drivers on the road, it's counterproductive to single out unpopular categories of drivers with special denotations on their license that are identifiable by the general public, whether we're talking about sex offenders or immigrants. In both cases the tactic borders on an invitation to needless harassment of licenseholders; indeed, that almost appears to be the point.

30 comments:

Mark#1 said...

I'd be willing to bet that there is a substantial portion of the citizenry who'd vote for tattoos without a second thought about that constitution thingy.

Anonymous said...

Well, then, Mark, a substantial portion of the citizenry will have to be reminded about "that constitution thingy". Not to mention that there is NO PRACTICAL REASON for noting a driver's license: It is, simply, gratifying to the idiot politicians who see these stupid and ineffective SO laws as a way to garner cheap votes from the deluded sheeple. Disgusting.

MDRN107 said...

Let's not forget that popular doesn't necessarily equal right. There were a considerable number of citizens who thought segregation was a greatidea too.

JTP said...

This is one of those laws that is unpopular to oppose because it looks like your condoning the acts of those "perverted" sex offenders.

There was a time about 20 years ago when homosexuals males were thought to be potential sexual predators. Remember that group that advocated Man and Boy lovers? Homosexual acts were also widely included in penal codes. While we still have them on the law books in many states, we now have both Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the state and federal level as well as the state and federal courts supporting legalization of same sex marriage and civil unions for gays and lesbians. First came the Rosie Odonells followed by Ellen D'Genaris and of course then by Democratic Leader Barney Frank. These people went from being regarded as perverts to national leaders in about 20 years. No one ever suggested that we put "gay" or "lesbian" on their drivers license.

The driving force to this kind of law making came from specialized counselors who in the 80's sold the idea that sex offenders were beyond rehabilitation. They were painted as hopelessly beyond changing and leading normal lives. The states were unwilling in most cases to impose life sentences without parole, though in some cases they came close. The issue of "cruel and unusual punishment" is the only thing that kept most of them from doing so.

The lack of reason in creating such laws as this is sad. It is easy to successfully promote this type of legislation, because anyone who opposes it is incorrectly labeled as pervert friendly! I think many of the people who put forth such legislation believe that if they humiliate and harrass this group of criminals enough, they will do the right thing. And in their minds that would be to either commit suicide or identify them so often and so openly, that it encourages some gun toting right wing para-military kook that the community is willing to let them
murdered such individuals without much consequence. I'm afraid that is just a logical consequence of what is happening from such legislation.

Christian principles and values are no longer a viable part of our Texas and National Democracy. Though fear mongering and hatred certainly are. While our children are certainly vulnerable and need protection, ultimately we are all vulnerable and need protection from such crazy, and inhumane legislation.

Let us pray....................

Helga Dill said...

Today will be another day of attack in Committee on the sex offender with bills by Laubenberg, Riddle and Shapiro. I wish someone would ask them exactly what they think these bills will accomplish because after observing these women's actions and comments it is clear they are NOT educated in the subject. I do hope the opposition today is strong as more and more families of sex offenders speak out about their personal hardships and destruction of their families by these "scarlet letter " laws.
Helga Dill, Chair, TX CURE
( Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants)
Including sex offenders!

Anonymous said...

What most folks do not realize is this is an attack on ALL of your Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. Currently there are several shadow laws that are pointed towards folks with DUI convictions as well. These include public databases, ID stamping, DNA entries into the database.

These laws are not for only the people on parole or probation, it affects anyone that is on the registry. Even if they completed their 'on-paper' sentence 20 years ago, they have to submit to all laws passed. Is this what the founders of this country envisioned for the population? Enslavement of a particular class for the "safety" of others? Many Many reports have been published regarding reoffense rates, and with the lowest percentage to re-offend of any criminal population (3-5%) the only excuse for continuing to pass these laws is for fear-mongering and vote purchases..

I agree that sex offenders need to be dealt with, however seeing that the vast majority learn from their mistake and attempt to re-join the population, isn't it in our best interest to ensure that they all succeed?

BJ said...

I support any legislation that will actually make the public more safe. This proposed law and others like it will not. Thank you, Grits, for speaking up.

1SOREmom said...

This legislature, like others before them, are self-serving and (with the assistance of the media) have made John Q. Public so fearful of the sex offender. In their quest to keep themselves in the lifestyle to which they have become accustom, our legislators will continue to hammer away at the SO...while giving the drug dealers, thieves and murderers a "green light". No one cares that the murderer lives next door to a school, we have no idea where they live or work.

Greg said...

I am a non sex offender (aggravated Robbery), who is on the gps box, that was created for the sex-offenders here in Texas. I have to carry this 2lb box with me everywhere I go, and can only leave the house for a job,job search, or personal living needs(shopping).

So everytime I go in a store I have this loud, gps box proclaiming me an ex con. the worst kind at that. I even had to have it at the two jobs I have had.
I did 15 years ,(I was a get away driver at 17), and now have been home 11 months. And cannot find a job. If parole wasnt a big enough thing to overcome to get employment, now I can only get a job where i work at an onsight location, that never changes.
I was forced to quit my 13.50 an hour job with the City of Austin (recycling), because they couldnt keep track of me, because our routes varied.
Then I worked with Circuit City, they went out of buisness, so now I am unemployed, and they only way I can get off this gps, is if I have a full time job when may 12th gets here (my 1 year frre day).
Just felt like ranting, cuz noone really cares. On top of the fact I am not supposed to be on gps (SISP) anyway, Im a non violent offender, non gang related, that had no disciplinary cases in TDC for 9 years.
Anyway, I just think that TDC recent practice, of putting non sex offenders on GPS boxes, is completly counterproductive. There is hardly any jobs were we can get that arent delivery, driving trucks, different construction sites, trash trucks, etc...
I was trained as an HVAC tech in prison, and they wont even let me do that, because I would have to go from home to home.
Tell me thats not a joke, they train me for something, then dont allow me to work it when I come home.
They just snatch the one thing I have that may help me get over the hump.
And IK honestly hate being mistaken for a sex offender when someone sees this gps box, that is a self esteem crusher.
Any way, I was just venting.

Anonymous said...

To all that commented today on Grits and in the future. If you are concerned that these laws are unjust. SHOW UP at the Capitol today and in the next several days. You can make the difference. You do not even have to speak. You are allowed to vote for or against bills. Sitting home or finding excuses why you cannot come will not stop this Freight Train!! Think about his. As the laws are written a simple aggressive kiss on the cheek of a child, though just allegations. Can be a charge of Sexual Assault of a Child by Contact that leads to life time Sex Offender Registry.

SB said...

Is there a telephone number to call? Everyone needs to get involved.

SB said...

I called these numbers and opposed this bill.
Rep Tan Parker- (512) 463-0688
Rep Debbie Riddle-(512) 463-0572
Rep Jodie Laubenberg( 512) 463-0186
Sen. Florence Shapiro-Phone (512) 463-0108

Anonymous said...

For the House to even think about putting sex offender on someone's driver's license shows only how desparate some House members are to get attention.

This is both cruel and I would think, or hope this is unconstitutinal. What is wrong with some of those do no wrong people in their minds eye? Did they not see themselves letting Ms Riddle cast votes for them? What a sick, sick government Texas has and change is needed especially from the Governor down.

Once someone has paid the price,for a mistake, that should be over and that person should not have to pay the rest of his life for a mistake made early in his life. There are circumstances in all our lives we wish we had not taken, but to have sex offender on one's driver's license, steps across the line of decency and this should not even be an option!! Would one of them like to have their 18-19 year old son labeled a sex offender for the rest of his/her life? More than likely not.

Anonymous said...

This is another scarlet letter as if the registry was not enough! Mark of the Beast? What next? These guys can not get a break and most of them donot even need to be on a registry. This is a grandstanding feel good bunch of BS! No other person who commits a crime goes through anything like this. What about domestic abuse, DWI offenders, murders and thieves don't they need that on thier drivers liscense? Put on your shoes and grab a pen you need to get to the capital this week and vote these bills down. I know from personal experience that you will feel for the first time that your vote counted! See ya there....

Zaskoda said...

There was a time when I was ready to pick up a crowbar and take out some kneecaps when I'd heard someone I cared about was sexually assaulted. I was ready to do damage without hesitation.

It was probably 5 years later when I started to find out about those who were wrongly convicted of sexual assault and the affects it had on their lives. The more I learned about how easy it is to make false rape charges stick, the more concerned I became.

There's an old lesson that goes something along the lines of people becoming what you tell them they are. If you tell a child that they'll never succeed, you increase the chances that they won't... that sort of thing.

Somehow, this just doesn't feel like the right solution to a very serious social problem. I think we can do better.

Anonymous said...

What's next tattoo's on my kid's head so the kids at school will know their dad screwed up once with a promiscuous teen?

Anonymous said...

How I wish we could oppose these idiot bills via telephone/email and have them announce it there - but I do write all the time and tell them just what I think.

Someone said they don't know the laws that are in place now - and that's TRUE - watch the hearings! Unreal how much I know compared to our LAWMAKERS!!! Amazing and SCARY!

Hope Texas can get it right one day and stop the registry. If not that, then go back to the Wetterling Act as that one made SENSE!

Anonymous said...

This stupid proposed law does not take into account the fact that there are many, many, nonviolent sex offenders. I speak of the 19 yr old boy who was convicted (or accused) of having sex with a 14 year old girl he met at a party for college age students. These offenses carry the same burden (RSOL) as the 60 year old who molested the 3 year old. When will the insanity stop. I couldn't be in Austin today but I'm there whenever I can on one of these outrageous "feel good" bill.

Anonymous said...

As a mother of a so called "Sex Offender", I would just like these people to know that my son was a 19 year old virgin the day he was put on probation for a sex offense. The so called sex offense was simply heavy petting with a possible future girlfriend. Now not only do these rediculous laws make his life a living hell, it also effects the lives of his family. I have a 16 year old son who suffers, because he can spend time with his old brother (the "Sex Offender"), they can not go out do the things that brothers do, this is really sad for both of them. My 16 year old also has to deal with the hateful, hurtful comments of others when they find out that his older brother is a "Sex Offender". I think the lawmakers need to take a step back and look at what they are doing and rethink these laws. Let's talk about cruel and unusual punishment. Would these people rather have a murderer or a drug dealer living in their neighborhood. I think not, but no one is labeling them.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that a drug dealer can kill 1000 kids a year with bad drugs, and the worst thing that happens is a one time news story.. But god forbid a 19 year old makes a mistake with a 16 year old, and he is Satan himself. Less than 33% of anyone on the registry is there for a child sex offense, of that 33% only 7% are true pedophiles. Another thing, a pedophile is someone who goes after PRE-pubescent children, NOT a 15 or 16 year old.

A sex offender who goes after a 16 year old is considered normal sexually, but has a problem with boundaries. (I am not talking about the child kidnappers here folks, talking about the 25 year out that is sexually attracted to the 16 year old)

It is very difficult for a pedophile to change their ways, however it is not so hard for other offenders to change theirs. This is one of the reasons we see only a 3 to 5% re-offense rate. Most rSO's that go back to prison go there for a technical violation, not for a new offense.

Anonymous said...

Can we then have tattoos on drunk drivers, wife beaters, child abuser, drug dealers, deadbeat parents, credit card fraud and the list of crimes can on. Every person in America can then have a tattoo so we all know everything about everybody and their lives history.
Stupid, stupid idea.
Are we back in Nazi Germany?

Tattoo Artist said...

Agreed that we need something permanent like a tattoo to identify offenders. These guys already have given up rights, why not this?

Mark#1 said...

Don't think for a second that those other proposed registries aren't on somebody's back burner. When keeping your cushy job and access to power depends on propagating an atmosphere of fear and perceived danger, there is nothing that is off the table. Once they've tapped out the vein provided by sex offender legislation, I'm wagering that it's a tossup between DWI offenders and murderers as to who needs to be ostracized and registered next.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not an SO but I'm driving around with no license or insurance. I got a speeding ticket and forgot to pay the darn thing. I know there is no excuse for being so irresponsible. The little town where I got it turned it into a 1,300.00 fine and I can't pay it. I know it's just a matter of time before I go to jail. I'm not working and can't until I get a license. C'est la vie boo hoo, I'm at fault and I guess getting what I deserve. However, I really do not see the point of some of these silly laws. I am down and kicked, kicking me more is not going to hurt me anymore than I already am.

Anonymous said...

I attended the hearing today. Rep. Parker's lack of knowledge in this area was evident. For instance,a 14, 15 or 16 year old who has sex with a 13 year old is not protected by the 3 year age difference or Romeo/Juliet affirmative defense. This affirmative defense does not apply if the victim is under age 14, thus we have these "romeos/juliets" on the registry in the first place. THE REGISTRY DOESN'T DIFFERENTIATE, (nor does the court ordered sex offender treatment these kids are made to endure.) Rep Parker insisted his bill would not apply to those kids on the registry.

I am also unsure of how or where Parker got his other "supporting" information. Parker’s facts are contradictory to what Allison Taylor, Director for the Council on Sex Offender Treatment presented to the Committee of Criminal Jurisprudence during the subcomittee hearing on Rep. Farrar's HB2924. (Another "misinformed" rep who would like to get tough on sex offenders. All in the name of public safety of course.)

I’ve attended a few hearings on proposed bills intended to impose more PUNISHMENT on sex offenders. It is frustrating to hear lawmakers(and their witnesses) push these bills by using myths and mistruths as supporting data.

Anonymous said...

“The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the
government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure
almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation”

Comparison between Nazi and American Sex Offender Laws and Practices

Nazi Germany Laws and Practices


Increased age of consent to 21

Broad definition of sexual deviancy “lewdness”

Dangerous Habitual Criminals and Measures for Protection and Recovery: Mandatory or
“consensual” castrations

Gestapo ordered registration of “asocials”

Gestapo given power to round up suspected sex offenders without a conviction and shipped to
concentration camps

Sex offenders branded with pink triangles or label Paragraph 175

”Re-education programs,” increased mandatory penalties for sex offenders, and indeterminate
sentencing

Women sexual deviants rarely punished, encouraged instead to be more feminine: Women can be
cured, men are incurable

Propaganda: “Weeding out inferiors” necessary to promote society and children

Economic exploitability of sex offenders: civil forfeitures, cheap labor in camps

Public fear, sex scandals, media propaganda, and use of informants to obtain registries


American sex offender laws and practices


Increasing age of consent to 18 in most states

Broad definition of sexual abuse for minor acts

Various states have allowed judges to impose chemical castration on child victim or repeat sex
criminals (LaFond 2005)

Megan’s Law: public registration of sex offenders

Ohio passes first “Civil Registry,” allowing people to be registered as sex offenders without a
conviction and subject to penalties

Alabama sex offender licenses with the words “Sex Offender” in red letters

Civil commitment programs, increased mandatory penalties for sex offenders, and indeterminate
sentencing

Female sex offenders receive lighter sentences and seen as less severe; all male sex offenders are
“pedophiles”

Banishing sex offenders is “necessary for safety of our youth”

Economic exploitability: Billions in grants for agencies and private businesses dealing in sex
offender monitoring

Public fear based on misinformation of statistics, sex scandals, media propaganda, and registries
make all registrants a suspect class


Need more be said?

Anonymous said...

There are many people out there who are labeled "Sex Offenders," simply because they could not afford a decent attorney.Others, who should carry that label, had the money to hire excellent defense. Guilt or innocense is largely determined by the size of your bank account. Can we just agree on that?

The Fallen One said...

Here is an article I read while researching the subject of license plate laws:

“Which means, I guess, that soon everyone in the Buckeye State will know when the car in front of them is driven by a serious sex offender? (On the other hand, maybe the person driving is the sex offender’s mother. Or son. Or a friend who’s borrowed the car. Or a mechanic taking the car out for a test run. It gets a bit tricky, don’t you think?)… Exactly how this green license plate is supposed to make the good people of Ohio safer is hazy (In cases of child molestation, for instance, 90 percent of the victims know their offender, with almost half of the offenders being a family member). And I’m not quite sure what a law abiding Ohioan is supposed to do when he sees a green license plate. After all, the sex offender driving the car has already done prison time, has gone through counseling, has been judged OK to live in society, is not allowed to live close to schools, playgrounds, etc. Do you ignore the license plate? (In which case, what’s the point of it?) Do you give the driver the finger? Ram his car? Give a polite nod? Or What?” (Peter Tannen, “Ohio challenges Florida for ‘Most Bird-brained State’ Title.” long Island Press, March 22, 2007)

Jason said...

As a convicted sex offender in the great state of Texas, where I completed a ten year sentence day for day, and am considered to be a "high risk" sex offender because of my conviction of Agg. assault of a child,I must say that it is high time that ALL sex offenders begin to organize. This idea severely threatens the political elite, for many reasons, the first being that we are eligible to vote, and vote we must. It is not just the fact that we are a force to be dealt with but also our families that will stand with us.... this represents a substantial portion of the population of the state of Texas. These registration laws have never stopped a single sex crime from happening, which is the greatest piece of evidence that is on our side of the issue. Do not get me wrong, I do not condone sex offenses, but we represent probably the least harmful segment of ex-convicts. These laws have not deterred us from re-offending, it is the fact that we hated what we did. The politicians are not worried about us at present because WE ARE TO SCARED FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW WHO WE ARE!!! Forget that!!! We should be business owners and employers that discriminate against those that hate us!!! WE should be a force in public ellections. Fight with microphones on the steps of the capital building. JUST LET ME KNOW WHEN TO BE THERE!!!

Anonymous said...

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