Ohio Weighs Special License Plates for Sex Offenders

Another terrible idea, this time from Ohio:

Convicted sex offenders in Ohio may be soon be forced to drive cars with a special license plate denoting their offense....Under the proposal, the worst sex offenders - habitual sex offenders, predators, and child-victim predators - would have to display the plate on their vehicle for five years.

Offenders would face a criminal charge if they are caught without the plate, and enablers who loan vehicles to known offenders would face criminal charges, too. If an offender moves out of state, they would get a green sticker.

This is just another shaming punishment and one that will have no effect on the number of sex offenses.

10TV spoke with a local registered sex offender who said this would be a second sentence, once out of prison. A spokesperson for CURE Ohio, which supports former inmates, said the plates would demonize people, and it's more often not an ex-felon, but rather a neighbor or relative, who hurts a child.

I'll be railing against the measure on MSNBC tomorrow at 1:30 pm ET. (Barring getting bumped for a Libby verdict or other breaking news.)

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    Actually it may have an effect because ... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 07:10:36 AM EST
     ... some yahoos all liquored up might end up killing a few of these folks.

      Sexual predation is a real problem and one for which adequate solutions are difficult if not impossible to conceive. The problem is that lack tends to motivate really bad ideas to combat it (sort of like terrorism).

    Just what I thought..... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 09:42:52 AM EST
    slashed tires, brick through the windshield, and people trying to run them off the road.

    I don't see it saving any kids.


    Stupid idea (none / 0) (#1)
    by Bob In Pacifica on Wed Feb 28, 2007 at 09:29:40 PM EST
    But no one will ask to borrow the car.

    Great law for grandstanding legislators... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ereshkigal on Wed Feb 28, 2007 at 11:05:17 PM EST
    ...but a terrible law for anyone else.  It's wholly unenforceable.

    Will the law ge enforced against "enabling" car rental agencies?

    What a horrible burden on the offender's family.  

    States identify different offenses as sex crimes, making the sticker completely arbitrary.  

    For instance,until a couple of years ago, a non-custodial parent in Oklahoma who kidnapped her/his child from the custodial parent was required to register as a sex offender.  Prostitutes and their clients are still statutory sex offenders and must register as such.  Indecent exposure is a sex crime here, rendering an unconscionably large number of homeless persons without access to restrooms as sex offenders.  

    What an unreasonable burden on the right to travel.

    wouldn't it be easier (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 08:46:51 AM EST
    to just kill these people outright, instead of the "death by a thousand cuts" approach? it would save everyone a lot of time and money, and eliminate one more item for grandstanding politicians to stand on.

    geez, as macbeth said, while pondering duncan's demise, "if 'tis to be done, 'tis best t'were done quickly" so really, the decent and honorable thing to do would be to just kill all "sex" offenders, and be done with it.

    I'm sure (none / 0) (#5)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 08:59:16 AM EST
     A significant plurality would ignore the intended irony and agree with that. Be that is it may, it's  not  a just or practically possible solution. We won't do that for many reasons but we also won't and shouldn't do nothing.

      Some problems are simply unamenable to comprehensive and very effective solutions that are also tolerable in a civilized society. that reality does not mean society should then just say well in that case let's do nothing. Sometimes very incomplete "solutions" that relatively ineffectively address only a limited portion of the problem are the only optins.


    to clarify (none / 0) (#7)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 09:45:45 AM EST
    I'm not suggesting that "scarlet letter" laws are a good idea because of that.

    How about... (none / 0) (#8)
    by desertswine on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:08:31 AM EST
    a special license plate for Bob Ney while they're at it.  It could say "crook" on it and he'll have to drive around with it for the rest of his life.

    What's Next? (none / 0) (#9)
    by peacrevol on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 01:59:17 PM EST
    Will convicted drug dealers fresh out of prison have to have pothead stamped on their foreheads so that everybody's kids know not to take any candy from them?

    Will thiefs have to wear little lone ranger racoon masks after they get out of prison so we'll all know to lock up our houses?

    Will car accident victims have to attach an arrow pointing down that says "Bad Driver" on top of their cars so that we'll all know to get out of their way?

    Everybody likes for things to fit into a nice little box so that we can label it, send it down the line and understand it. Turns out that the world doesnt work like that. I agree that people should be able to find out if someone is a sex offender if they want to know. However, to make them identify themselves at all times to all people is overdoing it a bit...mainly for the reasons that someone already mentioned earlier. By making them have special license plates, we'd be opening ourselves up to a whole new category of hate crimes. Sex offender status info should be made available for those who want to research someone, but we need to be careful we dont overdo it.

    I don't think any of those are next (none / 0) (#10)
    by Al on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 03:18:35 PM EST
    The people who come up with these ideas are generally fixated on sex for some reason. This fixation is encouraged by politicians, because it's easy to score political points with it.

    pea (none / 0) (#11)
    by cpinva on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 05:58:15 PM EST
    i'd kind of like to know if a convicted murderer has moved in next door. for that matter, is the guy at the bank a convicted embezzler? with an average recidivism rate of 70%, i think i'm safe in suggesting we're at risk from all ex-cons, not just sex offenders.

    that being the case, it would seem reasonable, following the logic of sex offender registries, that all ex-cons be required to register, and have some kind of obvious identifying markings on themselves, their residences and their vehicles.

    it's the only way to be sure.

    I'd rather not know..... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 06:30:34 PM EST
    I don't wanna live in a place where your neighbor can compile a dossier on you.

    And do you trust our huge government bueracracy not to f*ck up and ruin inncocent peoples lives?  Anyone who has ever worked in a large corporate bueracracy knows how easy screw-ups happen.

    Freedom means some risk and danger...I can live with it.  The nanny-state has enough to do without having to sort out color-coded plates for various ex-cons.


    Well Said (none / 0) (#15)
    by peacrevol on Fri Mar 02, 2007 at 11:58:12 AM EST
    I'm sure a lot of people would like to know those things. However, there comes a point where those ideas might apply, but really are outside of what just fits into the category...vague I know. Consider this example...let's say that someone kills my wife and kids and gets off b/c he was not read his Miranda rights or something and he's let off b/c of a technicality though everybody knows he did it. I wouldnt be one to want to exact revenge, but I wouldnt blame someone who did. Would you think that if somebody like that killed a guy he should always be marked as a murderer?

    I think also it's reasonable to ask what happened to paying your debt to society in prison? If they've served their sentence, isnt the idea that they're rehabilitated? If so, shouldnt their debts to society be paid? If not, what's the point of spending so much money to keep them in prison for as long as we did? Why not throw the whole prison system out the window? IMHO, the sentence a judge/jury gives somebody should be the sentence they serve...case by case basis style. To make them visibly mark themselves and their homes and vehicles, isnt the govt adding to their sentences?


    unsure (none / 0) (#13)
    by zaitztheunconvicted on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 07:39:20 PM EST
    I am not quite sure what to think of this one.

    If it could be proven that the measure advances public safety, it could be justifiable in part, perhaps.  If it does not advance public safety, it would be unconstitutional.  If the advancement of public safety is minimal compared to the harm to former offenders, it would still be unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

    In one place, some very bored prosecutor and/or sheriff's deputy might work at arranging to have me convicted, and so I have a natural sympathy for those who have been convicted.  And, a bunch of these child sex offenders may have done nothing wrong other than have consensual sex with a girlfriend or boyfriend.  I just read about the actor in Britain who had a 15-year-old girlfriend and she wanted to have sex.  They had anal sex a few times and it later came to the attention of the authorities, and so he was prosecuted and convicted.  

    Now, I don't particular recommend anal sex to persons, but it seems she likely suffered no harm; how is it just to prosecute him?  

    The state is requiring its residents who go out of state to have a green sticker.  That seems to me to be unconstitutional.  (For the action does seems more punitive towards them, than advancing public safety in the other states.)  Also, if it could be proven that the measure did not advance public safety, then one could and should make the argument that the measure as a whole is cruel and unusual punishment.  The reason is that it would, for no good reason, place every "offender" at great risk of vigilante "justice."  

    Such "offenders" are likely to find their cars and home repeatedly vandalized, themselves verbally abused, and even if the vandals could be found, juries might not convict.  Society would treat them about as well as blacks in the South 70 years ago.  Many crimes against them would go unpunished.

    enforcing the law (none / 0) (#14)
    by zaitztheunconvicted on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 07:46:22 PM EST
    remember that in order for the law to be enforced,
    you have to have a fairly seamless cooperation and commitment to have the protective law enforced, on the part of the investigating officers, the prosecutors, the judge and 12 persons on a jury.  Easy failures are in police who have no sympathy for former sex offenders and don't investigate or arrest, and prosecutors who figure that they have enough work to do rather than to take an unpopular case of protecting a "sex offender" or "child rapist" from having his car tires slashed by some angry vigilantes.  

    "Sex offenders" right now are generally mistreated by the criminal justice system anyway.  the law would simply enable the system to mistreat them by neglect rather than by some overly zealous prosecution for having nudes of minors, having a 15-year-old girlfriend, being homeless . . .


    Pay Attention (none / 0) (#16)
    by Sunny on Thu Mar 08, 2007 at 05:28:02 AM EST
    It's about time the mainstream paid closer attention to these shaming laws...legislators begin with those with no power and work their way into the mainstream public with God knows what else.

    Someone made a good point about harm to the family members, the support system that every legislator refuses to think about.  These persons are simply referred to as "collateral damage".  Families are suffering in Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky, and the list goes one.

    Good points in many of the comments.  Ex post facto is literally slaughtered in most of these laws but the stigma is so ingrained, most attorneys do not want to take on the cases.

    The sad thing....many of these so called offenders have had no physical contact with anyone, i.e. caught up the online chat room stings...I'm not referring to those who travel, but those who merely type words on a screen.

    And the illegal use of the sting operation is an entirely different area that law enforcement has taken to an extreme.

    Follow the money trail on this sex offender stuff...the more offenders on the registry, the more federal dollars given to the state.  Quite the incentive.

    This is a great link I recently received from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE
    LAWYERS.  Interesting reading.


    I. NACDL opposes the death penalty as a sanction for sex offenders.

    II. NACDL opposes mandatory minimum sentences.

    II. NACDL opposes sex offender registration and public notification laws. If employed at all, sex
    offender registries should classify sex offenders on the basis of risk, with full due process of law.
    Public/community notification provisions should be reserved for "High Risk" sex offenders.

    IV. NACDL opposes civil commitment laws because they punish offenders who have paid their
    debt to society. If employed at all, sex offender civil commitment statutes should provide a full
    panoply of due process rights including the right to a jury trial, the right to confront adverse
    witnesses, the right to present evidence, rules of evidence, a high burden of proof on the government
    and a process for review and discharge which levels the burden squarely on the government.

    V. NACDL opposes residence restrictions because such laws and ordinances do not provide
    effective community protection and threaten offender stability and reintegration into society.

    VI. Sex offender treatment and rehabilitation
    programs should be adequately funded and available
    both in our prisons and in the community. Such programs should not include mandatory polygraph
    examinations and should respect Fifth Amendment rights.

    What!!!! (none / 0) (#17)
    by chef124s on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:06:55 PM EST
    BOTTOM line is this!!!!Sexual assaulters are NOT curable at this time, so they SHOULD be marked for THE REST OF THERE LIFE!!! WAKE UP, THEY DON'T KEEP THEM IN PRISON!!! Its not pot!! its not a drunk driver you fools..its RAPISTS, MOLESTERS, and all other forms of scumbag that we SHOULD BE ABLE TO SEE EASILY because of the severity and pain that NEVER leaves men, women, and CHILDREN FOREVER!!  YOu may wanna take that gamble, but NOT ME!!!