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The Insidious Hidden Punishment System: Megans Law

A 2003 eAdvocate article revived from old website.
3-27-2003 National:

Courts have ruled that Megan's Law is not punishment, because legislatures did not intend it to be punishment when enacted. True or False? Further, whether true or false, does it still punish?

"The Indisious Punishment" from the perspective of those who live it, and others affected by it! Historically, the oppressed have had little voice.

While the government itself doesn't punish, nor does it legislatively or judicially sentence a punishment, by virtue of and through Megan's law, it inherently implants in the public mind, a subtle insidious seed of hatred, which will flower into punishment at some point.

The implanted seed to take fruition upon the first meeting of any sex offender, or any issue or circumstance related to a sex offender. With the political seed inherently implanted, the law operates silently, watching, knowing full well, when water comes (interaction w/community members) the seed will flower.

The courts saying, the legislature intended no punishment, and whatever happens is a consequence of the crime, ignoring the political seed inherently implanted through Megan's Laws, and fostered by continuous political speeches in the media!

The sex offender, first sentenced by the court, begins to serve the judicial sentence, knowing full they will again be sentenced by the public upon return to the community. What the offender doesn't know, thanks to the artful construction of Megan's law, is, what the societal sentence will be, nor what form the punishment will take.

The sex offender has heard and read of all sorts of atrocities having been committed against some sex offenders and their families, and knows that other sex offenders have simply reintegrated into society will little problems. The uncertainty of knowing which group he or she will fall into is a psychological sentence, a limbo, and waits for the axe to fall.

Officials preach that, Megan's law is a way of watching the sex offender, the watching taking place by law enforcement and the community. It is Political-Big-Brother in every sense of the word. The sex offender knows that, he understands the watching, and though he may not agree with it, he understands it. However, the sex offender also knows there is something else flowing from Megans' Laws, something beyond watching, something the government refuses to recognize, and courts minimize, vigilantism. The silent executioner with no face!

The sex offender knows this, because he reads newspapers, and report after report shows that vigilantism is occurring, which courts and legislatures, 10 years after Megan's laws, still refuse to recognize. Reports show protestors, stones thrown through windows, car tires slashed, shots fired into apartments, and suicides, and a few being maimed or murdered because of having the status of, sex offender. Courts minimize these acts saying it doesn't happen to all sex offenders, and is really a consequence of the crime and not anything the legislature has done. Courts again ignore that Megan's law tells these vigilantists precisely where the sex offenders are, what they look like, and paints a target on them. The psychological seed implanted.
7-4-2003 Scotland: Vigilante warning to sex offenders!
SEX offenders living close to where Jodi Jones was murdered have been warned by police they may be the target of vigilante attacks while the schoolgirl’s killer remains at large. Five years ago, police made a number of arrests when a mob of 300 gathered outside the home of a suspected paedophile in Dalkeith and threw stones at the windows.

The sex offender knows the general public has no rules of order, no grievance procedure, no trial, no second chances, no appellate process, no US Public Supreme court, no Constitution, the public acts in ways only known in history in cases of insidious discrimination, the public has no law to control it! Megan's laws have no protection for the sex offender and his/her family from acts of vigilantism, subtle or otherwise. States have mere warnings posted on their registries, with no teeth, and local law enforcement ignores them. Excepting in very serious cases (murder or arson) law enforcement will not even take complaints from sex offenders or their families.

That, the sex offender knows! It's called reality. Yes, there are laws on the books supposedly to handle all sorts of civil disobedience, but they do not control 100% of the public mind. The public acts in spite of those laws. They have no teeth or enforcement. Vigilantism or discrimination, takes on many faces, from subtle unnoticed acts to murders and suicides, as occurred often in racial discrimination cases found in history.

There was a time when public perception was, it's us (the white race [and in another era called the super race]) and them (all other races), however, when that was -besides world wars- legislatures stepped in and enacted legislation defining discrimination and its parameters. This was all repeated with handicap persons and gender issues, although not with such an infected hatred. Today however, the focus has changed, it's us (non-sex offenders) and them (sex offenders), the infected hatred has returned, and no protective legislation is considered, in fact, legislation has taken part in the discriminatory acts, by further legislation, to control, shame and ostrasize the sex offender, providing him no protections, no buffer, and sex offenders' families also live the hatred including vigilante acts against them. The original acts of a sex offender should be hated, but once convicted and having served society's prescribed sentence, they need to be allowed to become a productive member of society again.

Legislators have one voice when acting in official capacity, and another in quasi-official capacity or private life, and then, their public speaking voice. These voices are inconsistent, one speaking for the implanted seed (speaking broad tones of hatred and further punishment. i.e., The cry being "get tough on sex offenders"). They too have been infected by the seed:
A newspaper reported that California state Assemblyman George Runner (Sponsor of California's Prop 83) and city officials in Lancaster including Mayor Frank Roberts and Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford have picketed outside an apartment where Andre Bradford, 41, a registered sex offender, has moved in with relatives.

Likewise whoever of the public learns of a sex offender, regardless of their specific crime, becomes -society's vigilantist-. Exacting a personalized form of punishment, from as little as withdrawing normal amenities (hello - good bye, I'll do this for this person, etc.), to actually taking open steps, ignoring Megan's Law warnings, towards some form of punishment (non-renewal of apartment leases, denial of employment, protests, acts against offenders' property, vigilantism, etc.,) against the sex offender or his/her family.

While not forgetting society's victims, and wishing there was a way to wish away their label and all their inner turmoil, there are other unintended victims suffering (News article: "Probation officers have reported 'high levels of anxiety' from wives and children of sex offenders - and from victims."). I am reminded of a few stories which I will coin into one, a sex offender is trying to get on with his or her life, now married and with children in school. Their child just home from school looks up asking, why will the kids not play with me, why do they say bad things about you? Then quietly, I love you . . .

Times Record News Editorial: "Meanwhile, back in Corpus Christi, Texas, Judge J. Manuel Banales has ordered 14 sex offenders to place signs in their front yards reading, "Danger! Registered Sex Offenders Lives Here!" and apply bumper stickers that say "Danger! Registered Sex Offender in Vehicle!" to their cars. Banales says the order is a way to protect the community and rehabilitate sex offenders."

"Others have questioned why paroled criminals' families should be potentially identified as sex offenders even though they are innocent of any crime. We can only imagine the psychological effect this might have on an offender's child, forced to bear a measure of the shame meant for their parent.

The logic of such labeling, of course, does not run in a straight line. ...however, bureaucrats have chosen to single out a societal group and thereby put them at risk from the actions of an enraged, righteous public. Regardless of the result, like Pilate, their hands are clean." (Editorial 5-24-2001, Times Record News, Wichita Falls, Texas).

NY Times (5-29-2001): On May 18, a judge ordered 21 registered sex criminals to post signs on their homes and automobiles warning the public of their crimes, and the results were almost immediate. One of the offenders attempted suicide, two were evicted from their homes, several had their property vandalized and one offender's father had his life threatened, according to court testimony.

''It's totally shocking what has happened here,'' said Gerald Rogen, president of the Corpus Christi Criminal Defense Lawyers Organization, who represents two of the offenders. ''It's frightening, as if we're going back to the times of scarlet letters, public hangings and witch hunts.''

Although the state district judge who required the warnings, Judge J. Manuel Ba~nales, later reduced to 14 the number of offenders who must post the signs, he refused an appeal on Thursday to amend his order.

''They have only themselves to blame,'' Judge Ba~nales said.

The signs -- ''DANGER: Registered Sex Offender Lives Here'' -- give phone numbers for reporting ''suspicious behavior.'' Bumper stickers have similar wording. A portable version modeled after the diamond-shaped ''Baby On Board'' stencils, complete with an adhesive suction cup, were provided to the offenders.

Megan's law, while in theory sounds good, in reality, is a law born out of hatred and revenge under the pretext of public safety, which it does not provide for all. A psychological law of fear, stalking legalized, the ultimate effects of which, both the sex offender and society has yet to realize and it will be disastrous for society long term.

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