Laws treat children as monsters for minor sex crimes | Punishments severe

By Lenore Skenazy…..

Southwestern Law School Professor Catherine L.Carpenter puts it bluntly in her new research paper, Throwaway Children: The Tragic Consequences of a False Narrative. “Truth be told,” she writes, “we are afraid for our children and we are afraid of our children.”

Being afraid for our kids has lead us to create ever harsher sex offender registration laws. We want to protect our kids from creeps.

But this protection plan of ours has backfired. And now, Carpenter writes, whenever we arrest a minor for a sex crime, our fear “of our children ensnares and punishes them under the very same laws that were designed to protect them.” In other words: We treat minors like monsters, because we vastly overestimate the chances of them committing another sex crime. This fear, “is premised on a false narrative that includes flawed studies on recidivism rates and misguided case decisions that embraced these findings.”

Yes, flawed. Recidivism rates — the rates at which juvenile sex offenders re-offend — are so low as to be indistinguishable from the rate that non-offenders offend. But that’s not what the public believes.  Instead, it believes that juvenile sex “criminals” (including a slew of teens who had consensual sex) can never stop pouncing:

The utility of an overly-simplified registration scheme comes with a hefty price tag: the acknowledgement that mandatory lifetime registration captures and shatters the lives of many non-dangerous children. It is a price tag we should no longer be willing to bear. 

How bad does it get for kids found guilty of a sex crime?

fear of our children has prompted legislation that requires children as young as nine years old to register on adult sex offender registries.  No matter whether the child’s sexual transgression is voluntary or coerced – and here the mandatory reach of the regime is underscored – many children face lifetime registration. In some jurisdictions, the offense is deemed the equivalent of a comparable adult offense under controlling federal or state law…. And in jurisdictions like California, the child is required to register for life because the state has moved to a system that subjects all sex offenders – whether adult or child – to lifetime monitoring….

Sadly, the public’s hunger to punish child sex offenders has not been diminished by reality. Registration and notification for life continue despite significant and compelling research that these laws are not effective deterrents, [and] that children who commit sexual crimes pose little danger of recidivism, [and] that children have the capacity for rehabilitation….

Their lives are effectively ruined before they have begun.

Throwing away children must end. As you know, Free-Range Kids flies under the banner, “Our kids are NOT in constant danger.” The sex laws are written in the opposite belief: That our kids ARE in constant danger, so we are justified in locking up almost anyone we please.

Except that some of the people we’re locking up turn out to be our own children.

Carpenter’s piece is clear and gripping. Imagine a 9-year-old branded a sex offender for life.

Oh wait. In America, in 2016, you don’t have to imagine. – L.




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11 Thoughts to “Laws treat children as monsters for minor sex crimes | Punishments severe”

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  1. Paul

    We have a double standard in this country. We recognize juveniles don’t have the maturity to give consent yet when it comes to poor choices they have made, we dole out lifelong punishments. Which one is it? Do they have the maturity or don’t they? Of course, they don’t. Brain scans tell us as much. So why do we keep being so G.. Damn hypocritical about this?

    1. Maestro

      Paul, the simple answer to these questions regarding the hypocrisy in the court system/legal system is this – It keeps them in business. Earns them a paycheck. We’re all numbers and dollar signs no matter how young or old we are.

      1. Wardog

        Maestro hit the nail right on the head

      2. Paul

        Certainly the therapists who run our groups can’t be complaining too much. Young or old, the well always runs deep for them. They never have to worry about running out of clientele.

  2. Art S

    My question is – What is wrong with the cops who are enforcing the law? Has all common sense gone out the window. What is wrong with the judges who are even allowing these cases to come to court. I am talking about the 9 year olds and teen lovers, etc..
    When I was young the cops used good judgement and went after criminals, not break up family’s homes.

    1. david

      Yeah, it’s insane. Wonder how much power the judges have in these cases. With minors there’s probably a special agency that deals with them; does the interviews, makes the recommendations, ect. Another hungry bureaucracy to feed. Like Maestro said: numbers and dollar signs.

      There’s probably some children who need supervision. If a child shows violent tendencies, or is acting out in ways that hurt others, I understand the courts wanting to help that child and protect other children. But labeling them sex offenders and putting them on the registry? No way!!!!

    2. Paul

      To be fair, judges and cops have to enforce laws that are on the books. If they don’t, they have only one option; to quit. A judge cannot conscientiously object to sentencing someone simply because they don’t feel it is fair. The ones we should be blaming are the legislators who are writing the stupid laws and the prosecutors, who do have discretion when it comes to the cases they chose to indict/prosecute.

      1. Paul

        And one more thing: Let’s give credit where credit is due (said sarcastically). Law enforcement does have to enforce the law. But operating a CP site as the FBI did? C’mon. That’s not enforcing the law, that’s entrapment. They violate the very same tenets and principles they claim to uphold when they do this. Every time the bureau distributed an image in order to catch a perp, they revictimized a child. Why are members of the bureau not being charged with possession and distribution? Ron Hosko, and I’m paraphrasing “the ends justify the means. This was an opportunity we had and we took it”. Tell that to the victims who I’m sure would not have wanted to be exploited in this way so that others could be caught. This is beyond hypocritical.

        AND YET, no one should be surprised by this. I know I’m not.

        See Washington Post article.

  3. Steve

    Im 18 yrs old was got rounded up by police sting when i thought i was finally meeting a girl -i had met and been talking to online- on her 15th birthday!
    They want to charge me w a felony and ruin the rest of my life!

  4. I believe they need to reevaluate the juvenile sex offenders from time to time to see if they have rehabilitated over time and if they changed for the better then their records should be stripped clean. I think they do the same for sex offenders who’ve already finished their sentence.