It's election time in beautiful blue So. Cal and like every good Californian, I've read through my booklet of propositions and am armed with a newfound set of opinions that I never before knew I had. Most of the props are the usual - one group wants to float millions of dollars of bonds to fund public reconstruction efforts and another group says, "AHHH!! NO NEW DEBT!"
But one of the propositions really got my attention. Prop 83. It proposes longer sentences for sex offenders, prohibiting them from living near schools and parks and putting GPS monitoring on all registered sex offenders for the rest of their lives so they can always be tracked.
Here's the problem with propositions like this. Parents don't think any punishment too harsh for sex offenders. If the law said it would exile offenders on Pluto with nothing but water I imagine most mothers would sign it. Heck, if the proposition said we would cut off both their arms and make them watch Teletubbies all day it would probably get a fair amount of votes as well. That doesn't mean it's fair, but parents are incapable of putting the rights of sex offenders before the interests of their own children. So I feel I have no way of looking at this prop with a fair eye. In my opinion, no measures are too extreme if it means there is a slightly better chance my little girl will be safe. I find myself incapable of pity for these offenders. All this being said, I find the arguments against this law very compelling and agree with most of their points. I agree with my head, but not my heart.
Which is why I am going to vote yes on Prop 83 and feel bad while doing it. If passed, it may not provide all that it promised, but it couldn't possibly hurt. Heaven forbid anything does happen to my child and I had voted no. I would always wonder if there had been stricter laws if I could have saved her. I believe that some of these offenders are truly trying to be better and it may be humiliating to them to have so many restrictions on movement and housing after they have already served their sentence for their crime. But just because the judicial system has deemed them worthy of returning to society, it doesn't mean that I want them tickling my little girl at the park or even looking at her. I don't want them in the same city as my kid. You can call me heartless or you can call me a mom.
There is a website that tracks sex offenders living in my state thanks to Megan's Law. If you enter your zip code you see all the charming offenders living next door to you who may or may not ruin your kid's life. Two years ago I was tickled to find one of these dear men living not one block away and have been unable to walk on that block ever since. Realistically, I know he's not going to come and grab Pixie while we're out walking, but I don't even want him being able to see her. I'm paranoid past reasonable limits. The disturbing thing about this website is that frequently it will have a sex offender registered, but note that the person disappeared off the map some time ago and his/her current activities and whereabouts are unknown. It is shocking how many of these offenders have been misplaced by the system and are now living wherever they please. When I go to the park I can't help but scan the benches for creepy looking men who may be watching my child and keep a close eye on anyone too interested in her.
I know, there are offenders out there who have not and will not ever repeat their crimes. But how do we parents know which ones these are? Many of the offenders never get over their illness and it's parents' duty to protect their kids at all costs. Statistics don't help: there are over 85,000 registered sex offenders in California alone, a child is abused or neglected every 35 seconds and a rape or sexual assault occurs every 2 minutes. Why not us if we aren't careful?
I hate having to live like this, but feel it's my responsibility in today's world as a parent. I have to protect my little girl from the all-to-real possibility that she could be a victim. I have to vote yes on this proposition even though it will probably cost way more than is reasonable and restrict the lives of people who have reformed and never again engage in these sick acts. I find myself, against the voice of reason, unable to trust any of them.
Here are some links to more information about this proposition and the arguments for and against it:
In Depth Nonpartisan Analysis
News Article: Yes on Prop 83
Quick Summary of the proposal
Editorial: No on Prop 83
News Article: Think Before Voting
What do you think?