More Coming As Folks Debates Issues Online
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When Les and Amanda Anderson went to pick up their son from a county jail in St. Joseph, Michigan, it was the first time they had seen him in two and half months.
“I was thinking just coming up here it’s like he shouldn’t be here,” Les Anderson said. “This, you know, it shouldn’t be happening.”
Since his release last month, their son Zach Anderson’s freedom has been severely restricted because at just 19 years old, Zach is a convicted sex offender.
Zach was arrested last winter after having sex with a girl he met on the dating app “Hot or Not,” who claimed she was 17. But she admitted to police that was a lie. She was really 14.
If he had known she was so young, Zach said, he never would have met her. --Continued--
Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “Making Sex Offenders Pay — and Pay and Pay and Pay.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player by clicking on blinking green above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)
The gist of this episode: Sure, sex crimes are horrific, and the perpetrators deserve to be punished harshly. But society keeps exacting costs — out-of-pocket and otherwise — long after the prison sentence has been served.
This episode was inspired (as many of our best episodes are) by an e-mail from a podcast listener. His name is Jake Swartz:
Hey Guys,... ... ... (see website)
In the episode, a number of experts walk us through the itemized costs that a sex offender pays — and whether some of these items (polygraph tests or a personal “tracker,” for instance) are worthwhile. We focus on once state, Colorado (where Swartz works), since policies differ by state. Among the contributors:
+ Rick May, a psychologist and the director of Treatment and Evaluation Services in Aurora, Colo. (the agency where Jake Swartz is an intern).
+ Laurie Rose Kepros, director of sexual litigation for the Colorado Office of the State Public Defender.
+ Leora Joseph, chief deputy district attorney in Colorado’s 18th Judicial District; Joseph runs the special victims and domestic-violence units.
+ Elizabeth Letourneau, associate professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse; and president of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.
Does Public Shaming Guarantee Public Safety?
Sexual abuse is an especially heinous crime, and there's unwavering popular support for tough penalties. There's also increased evidence that public registries of convicted sex offenders may be doing more harm than good. Rehabilitation has become almost impossible for some 800,000 people, many of whom — including teen-agers — don't really belong on the lists. Is it time to re-visit laws enacted before the Internet blurred the lines between what's socially acceptable and what's a crime?
Nineteen-year-old Zachary Anderson is being released from jail today after serving 90 days for illegal sex with a 14-year-old girl. The girl and her parents agreed in court that she lied about her age on the dating app "Hot or Not." But that won't keep Zachery off the public registry of sex offenders in Elkhart, Indiana. His father lamented, "Obviously our son's life is, at this point, is ruined. He can't do the things that he wanted to do. He can't even live in our own house with his brothers, his siblings. And it doesn't make a whole lot of sense because he is allowed to come visit but he just can't actually reside there. You know, we taught Zach, you know, abstinence, wait for that special person. And unfortunately teenagers don't always do that, but I believe with all my heart that they don't deserve a lifetime punishment for something like this."
Maurice Chammah, Marshall Project (@MauriceChammah)
Roger Lancaster, George Mason University (@RogerLancaster)
Victor Vieth, Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center (@NCPTC )
Jeff Temple, University of Texas Medical Branch (@DrJeffTemple)
Sex offender registries are designed to protect the public from pedophiles and others who have committed sexual crimes. But some say those guilty of much lesser offenses don’t belong on the list: sex offender registries and calls for reform.
Tuesday, Jul 07, 10 a.m. (ET) Diane Rehm Show
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Abbe Smith professor of law and co-director of the Criminal Justice Clinic and E. Barrett Prettyman Fellowship program at Georgetown University; author of "Case of a Lifetime."
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