Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The sex offender down the street

According to California's new website registry of sex offenders, one of them lives four doors down the street from me. In my four years here, I've never seen anyone who looks like the man in the picture, making me wonder about the value of the website.

I had a discussion with a friend about the whole idea of the website registry. On the one hand it seems like an extra punishment for a crime someone has already paid for, but on the other hand the information was already public, in theory. It's a good example of information that used to be semi-private because it was hard to get now becoming available to everyone. A less-than-wonderful trend.

Mainly, the idea is a lost opportunity. They could have exempted people who were long-ago offenders or who have completed rigorous therapy programs. The whole idea could have facilitated rehabilitation by giving people a way to avoid being on the registry. But in America we don't believe in rehabilitation.

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