Sex Offender on Social Site = Felony

August 12, 2009

chicagotribune.com : New law makes sex offenders’ use of Internet social networking a felony.

After reading articles and research, such as the two articles which proceed this story, it is simple to understand how stupid and useless our legislators are:

Springfield — Gov. Pat Quinn signed new laws Tuesday designed to limit sex offenders’ use of technology.
One law taking effect Jan. 1 makes it a felony for registered sex offenders to use social networking sites, a move aimed at taking another step toward shutting down an avenue of contact between an offender and victim.

Now, let us look at real -life data, which politicians obviously do not do:

pewinternet.org : Adults and Social Network Websites.
A study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

While media coverage and policy attention focus heavily on how children and young adults use social network sites, adults still make up the bulk of the users of these websites. Adults make up a larger portion of the US population than teens, which is why the 35% number represents a larger number of users than the 65% of online teens who also use online social networks.

Still, younger online adults are much more likely than their older counterparts to use social networks, with 75% of adults 18-24 using these networks, compared to just 7% of adults 65 and older.

Adults are much less likely than teens to have a profile on a social network website. About three in ten (35%) adult internet users age 18 and older have a profile on a social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn.

The median age of a MySpace user is 27 years old. Facebook users are more likely to be men and to have a college degree. The median age of a Facebook user is 26 years old.

chicagonow.com : Virtual Concentration Camp for Sex Offenders.

Is this a necessary ban to protect the state’s children? Or a misguided move guaranteed to keep criminals who’ve paid their debt living on the margins of society?

As it stands, Illinois sex offenders must register their whereabouts for at least a decade–and in some cases for life, can live only in restricted locations, and are barred from many common jobs.

The new law further bars offenders from using popular services like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter–sites that hundreds of millions of adults (most likely, like you) use for professional networking and career development.

Given the existing draconian level of restrictions already placed on sex offenders after they’ve served prison time–and the responsibility of parents to police their children’s Internet use–is it really necessary to bar an offender seeking to get his or her life back on track from posting a resume on LinkedIn?

It’s reasonable for any crime victim and their friends and family, in Illinois or elsewhere, to call for the offending party to be locked away forever and permanently barred from the company of other humans. But is it always necessary? Or for that matter, just?

A maniac with a gun can shoot a child, leave them physically and emotionally scarred for life, go to prison for 20 years, get out on parole, and continue on with their lives. Right or wrong, it happens all the time.

So why do we treat sex crimes differently than other crimes of violence? Why is it only sex offenders who are shunned by lifelong additional legal means in every area of their lives after they’ve served the jail time that for even the most violent of non-sexual offenders would be considered enough of a punishment?

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