Driving home from work last night, I passed the house of our friendly neighborhood Registered Sex Offender. He was outside in the yard. It was dark out.
It's an eerie feeling, if you haven't experienced it before, to know that someone so near -- so close that I could have struck him with the door of my car had I opened it at just the right time -- is a convicted violent criminal. Of course, I would never do such a thing as open my car door hoping to hit the man. He's paid his debt to society, after all.
Or has he? Has he really paid his debt in full? When you borrow $100, you pay back $100, plus interest in most cases. What do you pay back when you commit a violent sexual offense against someone? Can you really give them back what you've taken? Can you make everything as if nothing ever happened?
And what of the rest of society? Are they not victims, as well, even though the crime committed was against someone else? Do we not all suffer when one among us has been hurt in such a way?
In New York last month, a woman was arrested for sitting alone on a park bench. She goes to court in November and faces up to ninety days in jail. Her crime? She was alone. Parks are no longer open to members the general public unless accompanied by a child. Why? Because sexual predators prowl alone. They go alone to the places where children gather . They sit alone. They watch alone. They wait alone. They attack alone. Some cities have decided that an effective way to prevent such atrocity is to prevent people from going to the park alone. Preposterous? It's just one more way that ALL of society is hurt by these monsters.
I recently engaged in a discussion about Sex Offender Registries with some men I work with. Of course, I believe they're a good thing. In fact, I believe there should be a national registry for all offenders convicted of committing a violent crime, whether it be a sexual offense, mugging, murder, assault, robbery, etc. If you intentionally hurt someone, why shouldn't you pay for it for the rest of your life, just like your innocent victim would? The rest of society has the right to protect themselves from every threat, and knowing what those threats are would go a long way in providing that protection.
I'll be driving home again late tonight. I'll be passing that same house, and looking in disgust as I drive slowly by. What right does that man have to live in my neighborhood? None! He gave up EVERY right when he chose to prey on the innocent. His crime can never be undone. His guilt can never be erased. His victim(s) can never be unvictimized.
I certainly wouldn't open my car door as I pass to try to hit him. That wouldn't be right. But I might not be able to stop the car in time if he evercrossed my path.