On Friday, the tabloid press in the UK had a field day reporting that most convicted sex offenders who had applied to be removed from the official register had been successful. The headline in the on-line “Sun” was “Fury as three quarters of pervs who apply to be taken off the Sex Offenders Register are allowed by police”.
One is entitled to ask fury by whom? The UK register was brought in with the “Sexual Offences Act 2003”. It came about as a result of Megan’s Law in the United States and more specifically the domestic murder of Sarah Payne.
The seven year old Megan Kanka was murdered July 29, 1994; the act named after her was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton on May 17, 1996. The eight year old Sarah Payne (pictured above) was kidnapped July 1, 2000; her body was found later that month. It has often been said that hard cases make bad law, and the registration of sex offenders is an extreme example of that. Is it fair to treat a man whose crime may be a drunken fumble in a bar after misreading the signals as no better than a child murderer and rapist? Some seem to think so. In the United States, people have been registered as sex offenders for urinating in public.
In the UK, the “socially awkward” teenager Jamie Griffiths found himself registered as a sex offender for touching a girl’s hip. At one time a girl would have slapped his face for this, but in the #MeToo era, she burst into tears, and Griffiths ended up in court where instead of opting for a Crown Court trial he foolishly or ill-advisedly faced a bench of magistrates. This has as good as trashed his career before he leaves college.
Of course, it is only right that some people are monitored, and kept away from the young, but when a man has paid his debt to society, that should be the end of the matter. Former heavyweight champion of the world Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist, yet he is still in demand as an occasional TV pundit. Is there one rule for celebrities and another for the great unwashed, or do we need to reconsider the entire business of stigmatising people for perhaps one bad, or even a trivial act?
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.