Alan Prendergast recently wrote about civil-rights lawsuits against minor offenders whose lives have been turned upside-down by Colorado's sex-offender laws. The issue is a tricky one, but one reader was able to spell out her views on the subject in a detailed and thoughtful way.
Obviously, in this state you can be placed on the sex offender registry for a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is, by definition, a less serious crime. To subject a person convicted (or plead out) of a misdemeanor to a decade or more of punishment seems to me to be a horrible miscarriage of justice. To subject someone as young as 7 to a lifetime of punishment by listing on the registry (because the crime involved a peer, perhaps even a mutual exploration, or "playing doctor") is surely also a horrible miscarriage of justice. To put such people on a registry that was originally intended so that police could keep track of serious threats to public safety is absurd, and to require that police spend so much time and effort in tracking those who clearly pose no danger is a waste. To require someone whose only crime was groping an adult female to have no contact with children is unduly harsh. And if you think it can't happen to you, stop and think. Unless you have spent all your life deliberately avoiding all human contact, you may be charged with the same thing. Then you, too, can find out what all the fuss is about. Of course, by then it will be too late.
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