Punishing criminals according to their crimes is the purpose of the law. The fact that same punishment was given to people that hurt children and those who harm adults were always a sore spot for many people. Those that hurt children must receive harsher penalties because their victims are young and defenseless.
Increased awareness toward crimes against children
People are jumping up and taking notice of those who commit crimes against children. Not to say people didn’t notice before, but they are taking a tougher stance against these people, mainly because the issue has become so widely publicized.
A lot of awareness came to light in the wake of the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping and as other such cases started making national headlines. The media was even criticized many times for not covering several missing person stories. Suddenly the nation went from little news on the topic to an overwhelming demand for coverage.
Incidentally, this has led to tougher laws against people who hurt innocent children. In the Davis County town of Clinton, a city ordinance could ban convicted sex offenders from stepping foot on city property in an attempt prevent previous offenders from entering city parks as a precaution to protect children.
There is no going too far when it comes to protection of children
On a state level, in Florida, convicted sex offenders are now required to wear satellite-tracking devices for the rest of their lives. If they get too close to a school or any other restricted area, patrol officers of a local police department will instantly be notified by cellular phone or pager. Other states are beginning to follow suit.
Are we going too far? First we post their picture on the Internet, now we’re tracking their every move with satellites?
I don’t think it’s going too far at all.
Many people may argue that convicted sex offenders have already served their time in jail and that any further persecution should be considered double jeopardy. I argue on the side of technology and the rights of the public, most importantly I defend our children.
The cases of two registered sex offenders, arguing they were still being punished for their crimes by being tracked in an Internet registry, went before the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago. In both cases the court sided with the public and their rights to safety. After all, while it is the law in most states that offenders must register, many do not. There are over half-million convicted sex offenders in the United States and 15 percent of them, roughly the population of Washington County, have failed to register.
Tougher punishments are the best option
Because every state has different laws on the issue, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is working on tougher federal standards against sex offenders that include a national tracking system. Changes to the law would make failing to register a federal felony. Currently, registration is required for 10 years following prison release for first-time offenders. Proposed changes would require 20 years of registration and lifetime registration for second offenders. Hatch’s proposed changes would also require tracking devices for first-time offenders during the course of their supervised release and lifetime tracking for second-time offenders and violent predators.
Despite attempts by our corrections institutions, there is often no cure for those who harm our children. Through the advent of technology, we can give people the opportunity to change, but still keep a more watchful eye.