Lawmakers in three states are pushing bills to require convicted sex offenders to display special license plates on their cars.
Proponents in Wisconsin, Ohio and Alabama say the sex offender plates would be another tool to keep the public safe. Critics say the plates would lead to a false sense of security and unintended consequences.
“For too long, child-sex predators have been watching our children,” said state Rep. Joel Kleefisch, a Wisconsin Republican. “It’s time we have an opportunity to watch them back.”
Wisconsin’s bill, authored by Kleefisch, would require people convicted of the most serious assaults involving children to use a chartreuse-green plate. The license plate in Ohio would be fluorescent green, and the Alabama bill would leave it up to the state Department of Revenue to design the plate.
An Assembly committee approved the Wisconsin bill 8-3 last week. Hearings have been held in Ohio, where Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, has said he would sign the bill if it makes it to his desk. The Alabama bill was only recently introduced.
I understand that children are our most precious resource (or some variation of for the kids), and I understand that it is believed that sexual predators can not be cured, but I still don’t like it for several reasons:
1.) At the very basic level, I despise attempts to stigmatize after people have served their time. If there is conclusive scientific evidence that sexual predators can not be rehabilitated, then change the laws so they are not released. Do not release them onto the public and hope a license plate does the job.
2.) These license plates will open these people up to be targets for vigilante justice. It does not take Nostradamus to predict at some point, someone whose son/daughter was molested will attempt to seek “justice” on some other predator.
3.) There are other less intrusive methods available- web sites with predator information, etc.
4.) The law is such that currently miscarriages of justice often occur with sexual predator laws. We have all heard the stories- eighteen year olds who have consensual sex with their 17 year old girlfriends sent to jail, etc. The most notbale of these cases is Marcus Dixon.
*** Update ***
But what about in places like NYC, where people don’t own cars? Why can’t we just have scarlet letters?
What color would Gods license plate be? Didn’t he knock-up a 14 year old?
In Florida, they have a simple solution: after you’re discharged from prison for a sex offense, you get special housing. There’s a parking lot right overhead, so that’s taken care of.
Fucking absurd. I am actually of the opinion that these offenders cannnot be rehabilitated, but this is a ridiculous solution. Keep them locked up. If you aren’t, giving them a special license plate will only make life hell for those who attempt to re-enter society and play by the rules while providing an easy loophole for those who decide simply not to register a car.
One exception: This asshole A special plate might actually have worked.
Slightly off-topic: With the plethora of “special” license plates out there already, do we really need one more? Here in MI, we have a special “Children” plate already, and I can only picture some morbid twist on this for the Chester the Molester plate.
It reeks of insanity that a 18 year old that drills his 16 year old prom date is marked, mapped, and now car-ID’d for life, but a guy who straight up offs his girlfriend gets a stint in the pokey but comes out unmarked.
The morale of the story? Better to finish the job through her chest, than merely on her chest. You may spend a few more years in the can, but you’ll still be eligible for vanity plates when released.
Hate the license plate, love the car. Kill the driver.
Great post, plus what Face said.
It’s an idiotic idea. It isn’t for the children, it’s for the ongoing aggrandizement of the Sex Police and their relentless quest to control other people.
If “tracking” these offenders is really a good idea, then in this day and age, methods can be devised which don’t amount to making them wear a Scarlet Letter.
What kind of fucked up message is this? You serve your time and your reward is a lifetime of humiliation and punishment while you are obeying the law?
I’m a father of two young kids and I think this is bogus. Just pandering politicians, Dem or Pub, using this to show they’re “tough” on the issue.
Yeah, no doubt some “heroes” seeing that kind of license plate would start shooting to prove they’re tough and good Christians. Probably shooting everyone riding in the car but the driver who got the plate. Or the driver being some dumb schmuck who borrowed the car, or a mechanic taking it for a short drive after working on it. Then of course there are the shooters with the Cheney skill level. Granny in the crosswalk would be shot.
I’ll support this law after they first legislate the wearing of a scarlet letter “A” by all serial adulterers like Newt and Rudy.
What might be more useful is a fucking “molester lo-jack” in their car, not a bulls-eye on the back.
This bill was no doubt lobbied for heavily by Goodyear and Maaco.
The Other Steve
This is what this will result in:
– Car will be registered in someone elses name
– Sex Offenders will move out of the state
– Sex Offenders will stop registering themselves
The vast majority(like over 90%) of sex crimes are not repeat offenders. They’re some kid’s uncle, or friend of the family and they’re first time offenses.
Talk to anybody who deals with these kids and the offenders on a regular basis, they’ll tell you this shit is meaningless stupid fluff that is going to hurt, not help.
John Cole: objectively pro-child molestation.
Sorry, just had to get the obligatory wingnuttiness over with.
Steve, stop me if I’m wrong, but this is almost assuredly unconstitutional.
Wouldn’t a Scarlet Letter or a tatoo on the forehead just be preferable in general? At least then, if some ex-con is going to molest a neighborhood kid at the playground, he can’t just park on the other side of the street before he exits his car.
Exactly what does this protect us from except predators who want to molest our kids with the front of their cars? Seriously, either they’re rehabilitated or they’re not.
I guess now that we’re safe from teh ghey marriage, we need to start being saved from pedophiles on the interstate.
Exactly how many false alarm 911 calls will be made the first time one of these rehabilitated, reformed guys tries to drive their nephew or grandson to the store?
How many false alarm calls will there be when one of these guys gets lost and drives around near a school?
The potential for vigilante justice and complete unfounded hysteria has no match for the politicians who’d better appear to be pro-children.
Reason #5 not to like this: these states will see a precipitious drop of tourism revenues from Vermont and any other state whose default license plate is green. My mom always had safety tips on trips to the south which for some mysterious reason she never brought up in the local area or when visiting another part of the country. I used to dismiss it as middle-aged paranoia, but if a green license plate is going to become code for “Molester on board” in states like Alabama, precautions are warranted. Such as, staying the hell out of the place.
Okay, that’s more like reason #55, obviously. One thing that I did think was a good reason #5, though, was in the article itself:
In addition to scapegoating, stigmatization, etc., the law focuses on the wrong target. Anything that makes it easier to forget, ignore, or gloss over this Wicklund guy’s point is actively harmful.
Our justice system is screwed up from top to bottom. Maily this is because it can’t decide if it is for the purpose of rehabilitation or for the purpose of punishment. As a result it does neither.
Child molestors are some of the sickest members of society after serial killers. But the key here is that they are sick. They have developed a severely screwed up sexual attraction. The worst may need to be locked up to prevent them acting on their compulsions. A lot of them need a lot of mental therapy and possibly drugs.
What they don’t need is to be abused by a system that then turns them loose while marking them for further harrassment and providing nothing in terms of actual treatment. That’s a recipe for recidivism.
Were I more cyncial I would point out that the same party that thrives on recidivism (“the party of law and order” or in other words “the party of fear of criminals”) is also the same party that drives so much of our completely incompetent system.
Almost as if they wanted it to fail.
That’s where the Republican focus on Values pays off.
Stronger Families. That’s the cure for sex offenses.
Any Mr. Show fans out there remember the convicted rapist skit where Bob Odenkirk’s character had to go around with a guy carrying a “I’m With a Rapist” billboard around yelling “RAPIST!”. He sold insurance but the court required him to tell everyone he called that he was a convicted rapist, so he never sold anything.
I fucking hate these laws. Here in so-cal it’s news every time a “sex offender” of any stripe moves into a house around here. Why? Because people raise a large enough stink just using the megan’s law website, then they picket the house and protest, they scream bloody murder about it and this of course draws the media. Forget that those convicted of (insert sex crime here) are lo-jacked out here with a GPS unit cuffed to their leg and are pretty much monitored 24/7, these people end up driving them out of “their neighborhood” (which I understand the revulsion) but don’t think that these people need to live too.
Don’t get me wrong, child molesters are scum, but there has to be a line drawn, how are people supposed to move on and re-assimilate into society if they are marked to stand out (or can be “googled” on the megans law site)? Granted these laws are meant to deter this kind of thing, but the fact is this shit does happen and the end result is someone who serves their time, returning to the street and having to live in a motel if they can’t find a place to stay because the “neighbors” drive them out. So they commit another crime or even the same one, just to go back to prison.
This is nothing more than a political stunt.
That’s a feature, not a bug. You seem to forget that we live in a nation full of vicious assholes who don’t even bother to disguise their approval of prison rape as a form of punishment. (The contradiction this presents, when one considers the stated reasons for toppling Saddam Hussein, is left as an exercise to the reader.)
I wouldn’t put it past our pandering, one-upping politicians and our barbaric populace to pass a bill that requires all sex offenders to strap blasting caps to their genitals and gives radio detonators to everyone in a 5 mile radius to use at their leisure.
Keith: “Hello, I’m Larry, and insurance is my game. Raping was another game of mine…”
would it not be easier to just cut off one of their hands?
The endless punishment of sex offenders is the 21st Century version of witch trials. Society does an extremely poor job of watching over children, with electronic babysetting (video games, e-mail, IM, etc.), latchkey kids and women no longer in the home to raise the children as they used to.
The out of control religious fervor that led to burning witches has been replaced by an odd combination of feminist-induced guilt of the child-rearing practices for women with right-wing induced “get tough on crime” politics in driving the current response to child molestation.
Why not make the punishment for sexual predation life in prison with no parole, instead of the hypocritical and unconstitutional punishment of people who have served their time for their crime?
And why just child molesters? Surely other crimes are severely detrimental to people as well. Why not monitor all felons? Why not special tags and web site identification of all criminals? Time will not revere this crap as a high moment in American legal and political history.
And before we jump on the mysogynist bandwagon for a response, think this through very carefully.
And guess how the notorius ACLU will react to this when it comes to protecting child molsters and rapist the ACLU is the best freind these crooks ever had
Actually I wouldn’t say it’s “feminist-induced guilt”. I would say it’s the right wing (both in get tough on crime and in religion) combined with a media that seeks to find the most outrageous “scoop” in order to boost their ratings. Combine that with the Puritan Police who blame everything on an adults ability to get access to adult material (legal adult material) and it becomes even bigger.
At this point the only difference between the MSM and a Tabloid is that the MSM reports relative truth, sensationalized. Add to that the internet “stings” that shows like the one on NBC and it becomes even more of a circus to watch. Granted there is a service being performed by having these stings but they are now being broadcast as info-tainment and are also being hyper inflated by said media.
This has little to do with how children are raised (that’s a whole other issue) and more to do with the media which loves to ratchet up the outrage machine over stuff like this and the wingers/religious nuts who are more than happy to use it to help their platform in going after legal adult entertainment. Kind of like the porn version of the anti-drug nut-jobs who say pot is a gateway drug.
A) Damn, learn to spell. Srsly.
B) The ACLU exists to protect the rights of all citizens, not just the ones you like. That’s why they are rights, not gifts.
C) Why were these guys released from prison? If they are such a threat that they need to be scarlet lettered in perpetuity, why the fuck were they released?
Thank God BIRDZILLA is here to cut through the fog of confusion surrounding this difficult issue.
Well, when you stop thinking of Americans as citizens and start thinking of them as customers, it sort of starts to make sense that you’d view the Bill of Rights as a series of entitlements rather than inalienabilities. Sort of. If you kind of squint and put your hand up Scalia’s dress. (It helps if you’re drunk!)
To make room for marijuana dealers and other TERRORISTS!
Perhaps the same reason David Hicks is getting 9 months in Australia for plotting to commit the worst terrorism this world has ever imagined.
Where else will the Republicans get their newest talking points?
Correct, and you have to start by protecting the rights of the least powerful, the least admired, the despised.
Once the demagogues get those rights out of the way, it’s a fairly easy shot to gobbling up the rights of the rest of us. You mount the defense on the fringes of society, where the threats to liberty first appear.
I don’t know if I’d go that far. However, once you build yourself a loophole in the Constitution, its amazing how quickly people will try to cram each other through it.
Like it was pointed out upthread, if you can declare sex offenders need to wear green license plates, how soon until they start broadening the scope. After all, what is the definition of a sex offender? If its anything like how we define a “terrorist”, you can bet we’ll see a faction of society ready to start no-knock raiding strip joints and linguire stores and the homes of bloggers who make risque comments on their websites.
pre-adolescent molsters? Who knew?
The one current technique for rehabilitation of child molesters seems to be, unfortunately, the one Germany follows: give them a voluntary choice of permanent confinement or castration. Until we know how to rewire our own brain’s sex drives, that’s the best we’ll be able to do (it lowered the recidivism rate in Germany from 60% to 3%).
Currently, here in california, any crime committed involving sex or sexual things gets you branded as a sex offender. Flash someone (if your a guy) and you are considered a sex offender etc. “Sex Offender” is a broad, broad brush which everyone, thanks in part to the media, now associates with child molesters even when that is not the case. Hell pee-wee herman got busted for whacking off in an adult movie theater, here he’d probably have to register as a sex offender.
I happen to know a guy who was convicted of statutory when he was 19 for being overly friendly(no intercourse) with a 17 year old and is now severely depressed because he is branded for life due to a youthful indiscretion. His work options are limited, he must check-in with a case worker basically until they decide he can stop, he has a difficult time finding a place to live, people who visit him have their cars keyed on a semi-regular basis and he gets tons of harassing phone calls. Oh! and he can never own a firearm or vote so he can forget about protecting himself from the occasional threats and trying to get people elected who might reverse his situation. If he could afford a car this would probably drive him over the edge. Sickening really, and if they insist on doing shit like this maybe they should narrow the scope of the term sex offender which currently includes indecent exposure, possession of lewd materials, lewd conduct, statutory rape and sex with a minor, all of which occur regularly on college campuses across the country.
People who prey on children are fucked up and should be punished, but good people also make some stupid or careless choices, which can also be completely harmless. Both can be marked for life as a sicko. While it’s true that life has never been advertised as fair that’s especially twisted I think.
D. Mason – Agreed and the case you mentioned is a prime example of the BS of some of this stuff.
Bills like this have two and only two purposes:
1. To give the sponsors “I love kids (but only in a platonic way)” brownie points.
2. To use as a bludgeon against legislators who opposed the bill during the next election cycle.
No one expects crap bills like this to actually pass.
They have a nasty habit of passing though…
After all, we’re talking Ohio and Alabama here. I’m sure the voices of reason will prevail.
Luckily for you, the ACLU and its supporters (like me,people who send them money and carry the card in their wallets) do go that far.
I propose that everyone who voted for Bush in 2004 be required to wear a yellow elephant emblem.
In fact, Powerline is reporting that Massachusetts and Vermont are already doing this.
Bob In Pacifica
Read Wilhelm Reich’s THE MASS PSYCHOLOGY OF FASCISM. Sex police is all about fascism.
When I lived in Spokane Washington, my roomies kid brother (then 16) was busted for flipping a BA to a busload of fellow students. He is now a registered ADULT sex offender, marked for life. Hell, the kid was covered by chicks (school track & football teams) because he was a handsome little shit. Married a beautiful lady and they have two great kids, a son and daughter. Clean record before and since. He is 41 now.
They keep moving the goalposts…
I have a daughter and son, and I think that this is just political pandering. When people start dying, it will initially dismissed as an ‘unfortunate event’. Only after an innocent person dies will they go ‘oops!’.
Lock them up for life or give them credit for their serving their sentence. In order to save money, the governments are dumping mental cases and offenders like child molesters on the street and telling the public ‘You deal with it…’.
Pass the buck government. We get what we vote for…
I have no problem at all ‘stigmatizing’ violent offenders after they ‘serve’ their time. Count me as unsympathetic… The tatoo on the forehead idea sounds like a good one to me
Then again, you’re just a caveman. You’re probably frightened by all our “technology”, things like “airplanes”, and “cars”, and “cellphones”. I’m sure concepts such as “rights” pass over your primitive head.
I’m surprised no one has pointed out the obvious – this is supposed to act as a deterrent. Of course, this goes against the idea that sex offenders can’t be rehabilitated as the same groups behind the license plate ideas believe.
The license plate idea is a horrible idea for several of the reasons already mentioned. Several of the comments are completely offbase, however. Hopefully, you’ll go back and notice many don’t pay attention to the specific crimes needed to get such a license plate in Wisconsin.
They’re taking about the most serious crimes against children. It doesn’t appear that Marcus Dixon, for example, would have to plate up. Still, the idea remains vague. And a dumb way to address the sickness and the crimes involved.
Laws of deterrence rarely work, of course, but some do. Raising the price of cigs by huge numbers has reduced the number of smokers considerably (as has more education about health risks and other factors)
Also, 90 percent of sex crimes are not from repeat offenders? Also, having sex with your son / daughter once, seems to be once too many, whatever the issues of recidivism (which goes back to a deterrence issue). That number is very hard to believe. Lastly, people who rape, for example, have several issues that damage everyone around them. If there was no punishment they would repeat them.
D. Mason makes the case that these laws are abused. Just like over-eager Child Protective Service people. Those are blisters in an imperfect system – and the license plate law would be a boil.
>>and you have to start by protecting the rights of the least powerful, the least admired, the despised.
Nope, you don’t start there. (Least powerful is the one in the list that doesn’t fit with the others by the way.) You start with those issues / laws that will potentially impact and help the most people. You do include those cases to protect Nazi’s and the Rush Limbaughs because they show the devotion to principle and Constitution over point of view. I’m also an ACLU supporter.
As a Wisconsinite I can tell you that the original idea was to make the molester plate the same as any normal Wisconsin plate, but with a Chicago Bears frame around it.
That’ll learn ’em.
I AM A WIFE OF A SEX OFFENDER. HE HAS BEEN OUT OF PRISON FOR 16 YRS AND HAS NEVER EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT MAKING THE SAME MISTAKE! HE LIVES BY ALL THE RULES AND DOES WHAT IS REQUIRED OF HIM…I THINK THIS IS BOGUS! HE HAS TO CARRY A CARD AROUND AT ALL TIMES WITH HIM AND HAS CRIMINAL SEX OFFENDER ON HIS DRIVERS LICENSE. I HAVE 6 GRANDKIDS AND 4 OF THEM ARE FEMALE..BITH OF MY SONS TRUST HIM AROUND THEM AND SO DO I..ALABAMA IS BEING A LITTLE TOO HARD ON THE ONESTHAT NEVER REPEATED THEMSELVES AND I FEEL IT IS AN INJUSTICE!