Sunday, 7 April 2013

Easy Targets

Updated: 2:56 p.m. Saturday, April 6, 2013 | Posted: 2:56 p.m. Saturday, April 6, 2013 

Sex offenders make easy target for Okla. lawmakers

"Oklahoman sex offenders who claim state laws make it practically impossible to return to productive lives are finding little sympathy before a Legislature that cannot stomach their crimes, even if they don't involve young children.

"All I ask is that you not view all of us as monsters," Regina McKay, a former teacher convicted of second-degree rape involving a 17-year-old male, told a House committee last week as it considered tougher laws against sex offenders.

Oklahoma's sex offender registry includes those convicted of a broad swath of crimes, not just those against children, but some lawmakers argue the very nature of those crimes makes it imperative to crack down on offenders.

"I will always vote to be the one that's tough on crime," Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, argued recently during debate over a bill to impose mandatory prison sentences for those who fail to register. "I want us to remember that the people that are registering here include people who are rapists, child molesters. These are people that have done heinous crimes to members of our communities.""

"The American Civil Liberties Union says recidivism rates for sex offenders are much lower for sex offenders (slightly more than 5 percent) than for those convicted of robbery, burglary or larceny (above 70 percent). The figures are from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

"We also know these bills and current statutes make us less safe as a society by marginalizing those that have to go on the sex offender registry," said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Oklahoma chapter."

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