Sometimes I wonder just how logical our laws are, or is there truth in -The law is an ass-(1)? |
I am referencing the South Carolina Supreme Court considering the question of whether to keep juveniles on their Sex Offender Registry.
Juveniles, aren't they the folks that are under 18, and don't we usually refer to them as "children (minors)," or because they are sex offenders do we separate them from children? Relegating them to an unspoken age group subject to special laws.
Court decision after court decision has held, "Megan's Law is designed to protect the public." Usually followed by ".. more specifically, our children (minors, those under 18)."
I have yet to see a court decision that distinguished -children-, -minors-, -juveniles- or -adolescents- for the purpose of sex offender registration, or any other law. The words are synonymous.
How can a law which is designed to protect "children" only protect some of the children? Is there a constitutional question of equal protection under the law here?
Megan's law, as applied today, seems to imply that, once a child becomes a sex offender, they can never be a victim again? Apparently, juvenile sex offenders are not to be protected by Megan's law, but instead subjected to what everyone knows to be the FALLOUT from Megan's Law.
It is also said that, juvenile sex offenders are amenable to therapy (John A. Hunter, Ph.D.). Presumably that means they can grow up to again be productive members of society. Yet, Megan's Law FALLOUT is ignored?
Inherent in Megan's law is that, it isolates sex offenders from society and causes feelings of worthlessness and depression. Unfortunately these are some of the things that cause a sex offender's cycle to begin again, hence reoffend (recidivism). Also, they are the main causes of teen suicides. Further, the adolescent period is when a person's sexual identity develops, and when peer pressures are greatest.
So, the question of whether a juvenile is a danger to society, oops under Megan's law the myth "all sex offenders will reoffend and therefore all are a danger to society," is no longer a judicial decision (i.e., probate court), instead one made by the legislature(2).
Are we again violating the "Separation of Powers Doctrine," when the issue is juvenile sex offenders?
In this writer's opinion, it is a question for the judiciary, who can make it on a case-by-case basis based upon the individual circumstances of a particular juvenile, as was the sentence given that juvenile when s/he broke the law.
Note: The South Carolina Attorney General says "the registry is needed to protect the public against sexual predators" and fails to recognize that the majority of registries, do not distinguish between those that are "predators" and those that are not "predators."
(1) Charles Dickens is famous among law students for his remark that "The Law is an ass." The first chapter of his novel "Bleak House" dramatizes the endlessly proceeding, stultifyingly boring, and outrageously expensive case of Jardynce v. Jarndyce, a will contest which outlives many of the lawyers involved in it.
(2)Based upon facts of certain sub groups of sex offenders and applied to all sex offenders.
6-23-03 South Carolina: SC High Court to decide if juveniles belong on sex offender list! The S.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider whether juveniles convicted of sex offenses should be listed on the state's sex offender registry. A Richland County boy --identified as "Ronnie A" in court papers -- claims the state law requiring him to be registered as a sex offender for life violates his constitutional rights.|
Being on the registry is too harsh a punishment because it will remain on his record into adulthood, court papers said. The S.C. Attorney General's Office says the registry is needed to protect the public against sexual predators. As of last week, 6,650 offenders were on the registry, 586 of whom are juveniles under 17, SLED records show. "It runs into cruel and unusual punishment," said Williams, who is a lawyer.
The ACLU is fighting sex offender registry laws in two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, she said. Karen Fryar, chief Family Court solicitor for Richland and Kershaw counties, said the public has a right to know about juveniles who have committed serious sexual offenses.(by Rick Brundrett, The State.com) (Article two)