Debunking Juvenile Sex Offender Myths
The New York Times Magazine today focuses on juvenile sex offenders, asking where is the line that divides a kid between being a sex offender and merely having boundary issues -- and questioning the wisdom of lifetime community notification laws for juveniles convicted of sex offenses.
It's a ten page feature article, but here are some highlights:
Community notification makes people feel protected — who wouldn’t want to know if a sex offender lives next door? But studies have yet to prove that the law does, in fact, improve public safety. Meanwhile, when applied to youths, the laws undercut a central tenet of the juvenile justice system. Since juvenile courts were created more than 100 years ago, youths’ records have, with exceptions in some states, been sealed and kept out of the public’s hands. The theory is that children are less responsible for their actions, and thus less blameworthy, than adults and more amenable to rehabilitation. But by publishing their photographs and addresses on the Internet, community notification suggests that juveniles with sex offenses are in a separate, distinct category from other adolescents in the juvenile justice system — more fixed in their traits and more dangerous to the public. It suggests, in other words, that they are more like adult sex offenders than they are like kids.
|< Parents Convicted of Hosting Underage Drinking Party | Feingold Calls For Censure >|