Thursday, May 19, 2005

Forging Our Next Second Class Citizen

It begins with a reasonable law, or well-sounding claim. It begins with a call to protecting someone else, someone with a person connection to the people, or the people themselves. It begins with seemly justified paranoia.

Oklahoma just passed legislation requiring all convicted sex offenders to wear GPS bracelets for the rest of their life so law enforcers can track their every move. Even if we go on the rather ridiculous assumption that every single one of these felons really was guilty, they are still citizens of this country and have done their time. Don’t we have a law against cruel and unusual punishment?

Senator Myers defends the law, saying it will make their other laws “faster and more efficient” to implement. If we only cared about our justice system being fast and efficient, we’d just execute all the guilty.


David said...

Your argument is off the mark. Of course it's not true that "every single one of these felons really was guilty". But if exonerating evidence surfaces, I assume that the sex-offender status is removed.

Secondly, I don't think survalience qualifies as "cruel and unusual punishment". Is there any case-law that backs up this claim?

David said...

New evidence surfacing is a big if. A big if. It rarely happens and even if it does, the damage is usually already done.

Is survalience cruel and unusual? No, but this is more than survalience. When people think of survalience, they think of casino cameras watching for card counters and trouble makers.

This is more like having Big Brother in your back pocket. It has the facade of letting people live their lives while forcing them to give up their anonymity. In many communities, laws require that if a convicted sex offender (who have already served their time) lives in the neighborhood, pictures of the convicted must be put up declaring their shameful past for all to see. Often they are met with ridicule and treated like less than people. This law just one step further, complete with a braclet: a sign so everyone knows to treat this person as a second-class citizen. You're damn right I call that cruel and unusual.

I don't know of any case-laws that back my claim but when we're talking about restricting freedom and autonomy, the burden of proof rests with the lawmakers. So I ask you: Are there any case-laws that back up the claim it's NOT cruel and unusual?

Anonymous said...

Nevada is on track to pass a similar law. I find the concept morally repulsive. It appears to me that we are trying to punish individuals for what they MIGHT do. This goes against our code of justice at the most fundemental level. It is a black and white violation of "Due Process".

This is a slipery slope, why stop a sex offnese, why not all violent offenders? This would make it a lot easier for law enforcement if we could track all known crimianls.

Why not GPS everybody? Then we would know everyone at the scene of every crime?

That being said it is hard to argue that this would deter sex offenses, and that make our children safer, it is hard to argue against that.