Alaska should try to set example

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2005

A serious aspect within our society today is sex crimes and the way the law does or does not meet the needs of the people they are sworn to protect. It seems, from my point of view, that all the crimes associated with what is defined as sex crimes are treated similarly by the legal system at least as far as punishment and what is done after the fact.

I believe there is a real difference between some young teen that, caught up in the throws of wild hormones, does something stupid with his girlfriend versus an adult who sexually attacks a young child. In the first case the young person may be taught to control his urges, but in the second case that person may never be cured. Yet the law draws no distinction, and because of this we have a young person whose life is irreparably damaged, and another who should never be allowed to live outside of a prison or mental health facility.

Having these individuals kept on a list so that the public knows who they are and where they live may seem to some to meet the needs of the public, but I feel it just sets up a false sense of security. If those people who have perpetrated sexual crimes cannot be cured or cannot ever be trusted not to do it again, then the punishment for their crimes must be life in prison or a mental institution. Why put the public at risk?

On the other hand, if there are some sex crimes where the person can be rehabilitated, then why make it more difficult on them after they have served their time by putting them on a public list of sex offenders for the rest of their lives? In the past centuries they used to brand people by burning a letter into their foreheads or cheeks to let all know that they were criminals. Of course, that style of punishment is considered inhumane now, but are these lists not just another form of branding using 21st century electronics?

We need to take a different approach to this problem. Let's ignore what is being done in other states and come up with something that meets our needs. What we have now doesn't protect the women and children of this state nor does it rehabilitate sex offenders. Who knows, maybe in the process we will do something that other states will want to emulate.

John A. Marshall

Juneau



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