By Jason Menard
Every once in a while a story comes around that challenges your beliefs; in my case, they generally revolve around children. And while I’d like to think I’m a progressive-thinking young(ish) man who is tolerant of those around him, I have to say a recent story got my blood boiling.
I don’t believe in capital punishment; I don’t believe that guns have any purpose but to kill (and I don’t buy that bullshit line about how guns don’t kill people, people kill people); and I do believe that people can be rehabilitated. I’m not a violent guy, by nature.
But, in the case of a recent sexual assault of a seven-year-old girl, I’m ready to string her attacker up by his testicles – and maybe have him joined by a legal system that enabled this action to happen.
While this action makes me question my non-violence-no-need-for-a-lynch-mob mentality, it reinforces my belief that we need to implement stricter after-conviction laws. Once you’ve committed certain crimes, I firmly believe you lose your rights to be fully reintegrated back into society – even after you’ve served your time.
I’ve written about this in the past: both times relating to Karla Homolka. I titled one piece Justice for All – But No Carte Blanche, which contrasted the news that Linda Shaw’s killer was a repeat offender with the decision to allow Homolka back into society, albeit with strict restrictions placed upon her.
I then wrote about the need to institute a Karla’s Law wherein violent offenders would have to be registered and tracked for life. No questions asked.
Maybe if we had a Karla’s Law, then a little seven-year-old girl wouldn’t have been subjected to a lifetime of horror thanks to the actions of one sick, perverted man.
Police allege that a 42-year-old man sexually assaulted this little girl, exposing himself to her in a parked car. He was arrested on Sunday and has been charged with one count each of invasion to sexual touching, exposing genitals to a person under 16, and paying for the sexual services of a person under 18.
The kicker? This isn’t the first time he’s been under the microscope for actions like this. He was sentenced to a year in jail in 2008 for sexual interference of an 11-year-old girl, and has prior convictions in 1996 and 1990. In fact, in 2009 he was charged with 13 sex offenses against girls aged five to 11.
There’s no easy way for you to find out if there’s a sex offender in your neighbourhood. The RCMP and local police have records, but they’re not accessible to all. Instead, these people are back in society. As you can see from this report of the recidivism rate of those who have been placed in a correctional facility for their crimes, the answer of ‘How many?’ is never clear. A search will pull numbers ranging from five per cent to 50 per cent. But, for most people, one more crime is one too many.
The answer is simple, although the fallout may be complex. If you’re convicted of certain crimes: murder, rape, sexual assault of a minor, you subsequently forfeit your right to a normal life. Period. Forever.
We have rules and laws in society of which we all must abide. You break those rules you break your pact with society. And, as a society, we have the right to protect ourselves – and our children. However you want to define it (a choice, a compulsion, an illness), you’ve broken one of the fundamental principles of our society – and by that violation, you’ve forfeited your right to demand that society upholds its end of the bargain.
At the very least, lifetime constant monitoring, regular check-ins with police, restrictions from leaving the country permanently (I don’t believe in allowing people to become somebody else’s – or some other nation’s – problem), regular photographs documenting any changes to one’s appearance, and mandatory, enforced counselling for life.
The next step is tough. The easy answer for us is to simply publicize these offenders’ names and addresses. However, doing so runs the risk of turning these people into pariahs who will be forced underground – and, likely, into a life of crime, anger, and depression due to the fact that they’ve been cast out by society for their crimes, even if they claim to be rehabilitated.
Do we find a middle ground? Do we make generalized locations of sex offenders known? For example, a Web-based application that would tell you if there’s a registered sex offender in a one, five, or 10-kilometre radius of your home wouldn’t appear to be out of the question.
Admittedly, tighter restrictions won’t solve all the problems. It won’t prevent those who are sick enough to enjoy preying on the vulnerable. If someone is hell-bent on committing a crime, no law or consequence will stop them. Yet, we lock people up for life for murdering a person; should not the crime of killing one’s youth, one’s spirit, and one’s soul carry a similar punishment?
After all, in the end whom are we trying to protect? Do we bend over backwards to apply the rules of society to people who have shown so little regard for those rules in the past? Or do we use the rules of society to protect not just those of us who abide by it – but also those of us who are too young and too vulnerable?
I know where my thoughts lie. No little boy or little girl should ever be subjected to this type of horror – and knowing that this man was in custody before makes the crime even worse.
I may be a bleeding heart most of the time, but in cases like this it’s not blood that runs from my heart. That blood is replaced by tears – tears of sorrow and tears of anger.