Less than a month ago, the city of Simi Valley approved restrictions on registered sex offenders on Halloween. The law bans Halloween lights or displays of any kind at the home of a convicted sex offender along with a required sign that reads: "No candy or treats at this residence." So now an attorney representing five of the convicted sex offenders on Megans Law website who are five of the 119 registered sex offenders in that city is suing the city, accusing the city of violating First Amendment rights. The restrictions, the suit claims, denies the offenders their free speech rights.
Although not all of the 119 offenders in Simi Valley are considered "serious" offenders, 67 of them are. None has been involved in crimes with children on Halloween. City officials defend the law saying that it's preemptive and follows similar laws already in place in various Southland communities. The primary purpose of the law is to protect children.
The attorney who represents the offenders likens this restrictive law and the sign requirement as being the same as when Nazi's forced Jews to wear yellow stars of David on their clothing to identify them and stigmatize their status. (I think that metaphor is a bit of a stretch. There's a big difference between those who violently violate another person and those persecuted simply because of their religion and culture)
It will be interesting to see if this lawsuit overturns Simi Valley's law and similar laws in other communities. What might follow? Lawsuits that restore a sex offender's right to live closer to schools and parks?
I firmly believe that people make mistakes and deserve to turn their lives around. I have seen instances of people who were involved in criminal activity and then did some wonderful things with the rest of their lives. But I have to admit that I am skeptical when it comes to sex offenders. It's not just a matter of dealing with errant behavior, bad habits or poor decision-making which can possibly be turned around and controlled in some individuals. This is a case of libido, personality imprinting and uncontrolled urges that, to my knowledge, has seldom been successfully stopped or reversed.
In addition, sex offenders not only committed a crime and thereby are denied the privilege of enjoying all the perks life offers, they are can still be considered a loose cannon by many psychiatrists and psychologists. These people didn't just steal something or vandalize property. They targeted innocent victims. Few sex offenders only do that once. Many are multiple offenders. How is society supposed to deal with these people?
Should we feel guilty that we are denying them their first amendment rights? Not by my way of thinking. In life you follow laws, rules and moral guidelines that are expected of you. It's like an unwritten contract you accept and follow. Once that contract is broken, I'm not sure that such a person deserves to have all the considerations of a person who never does anything wrong. That just doesn't make sense on a primary level.
In the current world of hyper-sensitivity where no one wants to deny anyone their rights, I still think that maybe when you break society's laws, rules and trust, you may not deserve to have so many rights.