An Ohio legislative panel yesterday rubber-stamped an unprecedented process that would allow sex offenders to be publicly identified and tracked even if they’ve never been charged with a crime.
A recently enacted law allows county prosecutors, the state attorney general, or, as a last resort, alleged victims to ask judges to civilly declare someone to be a sex offender even when there has been no criminal verdict or successful lawsuit.
The person’s name, address, and photograph would be placed on a new Internet database and the person would be subjected to the same registration and community notification requirements and restrictions on where he could live.
A civilly declared offender, however, could petition the court to have the person’s name removed from the new list after six years if there have been no new problems and the judge believes the person is unlikely to abuse again.
Now, I’m no fan of sex offenders. If a rapist and a child molester were drowning, and I could only save one of them, I’d ask myself whether I wanted to get dinner, or go to a movie.
However, in this country, there are supposed to be rules to be followed, and one of these rules is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. That you can’t take away someone’s freedom just ‘cos you know he done it. If you think someone is a rapist, then you have to find witnesses, fingerprints, lawyers, and the whole nine yards. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but the alternative is punishing innocent people.
Like here. If the Blade is at all accurate, then basically this law adds official sanction to trial-by-media. What’s next? Weighing the accused to see if she weighs as much as a duck?
Of course, this is a country that wages unprovoked war, that tortures prisoners, spies on its citizens, and tries its damndest to muzzle the press, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.