Saturday, August 8, 2009

Are you sure you live at your house?

So you look in your mailbox and there's a card from the county sheriff telling you that a registered sex offender living nearby, one dangerous enough that the neighbors must be notified. (Just what the neighbors are supposed to do, other than burning down the offender's house, is an open question, but I digresss.) The neighbors get the card, too.

So who is this evildoer? Which neighber should you shun - or shoot?

Ooops. It's you. Or more accurately, it's a person living at your address - except you're the only one living there, and you're a 67-year-old, law abiding citizen. You're not a 23-year-old sex offender. Whoever that is, he doesn't live at your house. Never did.

That's what happened to a man in Lucas County. You can read about it here or watch the TV news story here.

It's a sure thing. There are some 900 registered sex offenders in Lucas County. There's one deputy sheriff to track them. You think there won't be mistakes? Sorry, but we didn't mean to screw you over this way.

We know that the sex offender registration and notification laws don't actually protect anyone. We know they do little besides make it harder for sex offenders to find jobs, get settled living arrangements, become or remain productive members of society.

And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, we know the rest of the story. Innocent people, wholly innocent people, get shamed and tarnished because, well, because shit happens.

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