Sex offender laws go too far

March 03, 2010

Thanks to Dan Rodricks for his recent column on the collateral damage done by the current legislative frenzy concerning sex offender laws ("Is state wise to treat all sex offenders the same?" Mar. 2). As the chairman of the Juvenile Treatment sub-committee of the Delaware Sex Offender Management Board, I have seen many cases involving adolescents and adults over the last 15 years. In the last few years, since the enactment of the Federal Adam Walsh Act, many more cases, such as the one Mr. Rodricks wrote about, have come to the fore.

Due to Walsh, states have the ability, and the funding, to go back to 1972, to find sex offenders, and to require them to register on public access websites. I have spoken to people here in Delaware who contend that such work is a waste of time, energy, resources and money. While we spend our time finding and tracking someone who made a stupid mistake 25 years ago, we allow pedophiles to molest and destroy children's lives.

Many of the laws we have to deal with are knee jerk reactions and election year pronouncements that show citizens that legislators are "tough on sex offenders." Yet, few policies are created in a thoughtful, well planned and proactive manner that would actually keep the public safe. While our efforts and tax dollars are spent watching a person who rehabilitated his life after making a foolish mistake years ago, serial, violent and manipulative pedophiles are free to groom victims and offend without restraint.

Marc Felizzi, Wilmington, Del.

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