Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Wonders of Public Education

It is not often that a subject can surface this near to Opening Day that it can shock me out of reverie, but alas I have encountered one.

According to information linked at Jackie Danicki's personal blog, it appears that Illinois refuses to tell the names of sex offenders enrolled in their schools.

Jackie lists this as reason #959595 she won't send her children to public school. My reasons are less morally sound, I just want to force my children into some absurd academic regimen whereby they become J.S. Mill clones. The will detest me, but at least they will speak Latin and Greek and have mastered calculus before 5th grade.

Seriously though, I am of two minds on this issue. The first is the natural desire to protect citizens from predators, both potential and real. The second is the rational desire to protect criminals who have paid their debt to society from mob justice. I understand that sex offenders are cited as a special case, and in the case mentioned the victim was a 7 year old child, but that still leads me to alternate observations.

Chiefly, if recidivism is a guarantee in cases of Child Sexual Molestation then our current sentencing requirements are to blame. The Constitution prevents us from making ex post facto laws to punish criminals, and I believe many community notification laws can (due to vigilantism) be the equivalent of retroactive punishment. This is especially true of laws which can retroactively require psychological therapy. This is not to say that community notification laws or psychotherapy are in themselves bad, I believe they are the correct form of punishment. Rather, in my opinion, constitutionally we have a problem with retroactively applying these laws.

I say make the punishment fit the crime. Domestic Tranquility is one of the legitimate uses of government, and nothing disquiets a community more than an active sexual predator.

These thoughts are obviously brief and need further reflection so any input is welcomed.

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