Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Maine's Sex Offender Registry

One thing that really gets me about the efforts to change Maine's sex offender registry law is that the major impetus was the killing of two men who were on the list this past Easter.

One began on Easter Sunday, when Stephen Marshall used the online registry to find and kill two men he didn't know. One of the victims was William Elliot of Milo, who was convicted of a misdemeanor sex assault after having sex with his girlfriend when she was 15 and he was 20.

Committee members questioned whether Elliot should have been listed with other more dangerous offenders.

"William Elliot was not a risk to re-offend, and there's probably a lot of others in that category," Rep. Gary Plummer, R-Windham, said Tuesday.

So, we want to make sure only the really bad guys get killed when we release them from prison? Is that it?

Don't get me wrong. I think folks like Joseph Tellier shouldn't be allowed back into society. Ever. I don't care how many psychologists sign off on it.

But if the law says that you've served your term for your crime, and you're free to go, but you have to register with us so any disturbed individual with an internet connection can hunt you down, that's just crazy. Anyone about to be released from prison who will be required to be on such a list should have the option of staying in protective custody indefinitely. Or they should have round-the-clock security underwritten by the state. The lawmakers involved seem to be implicitly approving of vigilantism to rid society of the sex offenders that they don't want to lock up. That's just wrong. Not as wrong as the crimes that sent the folks to prison, but wrong still.