The long term well-being of people who are convicted of crimes is not a common topic of discussion in today’s world. And understandably so: it’s a difficult topic that is inherently “unsavory” to consider. Most people just don’t want to think about it. But this is an important topic, because unless the person convicted of the offense is put behind bars for the rest of his or her life, they will eventually re-enter society.
Assimilating back into society after a crime is a huge problem right now. People carry a criminal history, in addition to having massive consequences related to finances and personal activities, and makes to often find a suitable job or place to live. When people are unable to assimilate back into society, recidivism increases and a person with a criminal record, much less a sex offender, could become destined to fail.
Now, a state legislature has made it a felony crime whenever a mother, father or grandparent changes a child’s diaper and makes “sexual contact” defined as “direct or indirect touching … of any part of the genitals” of that child, even without any evidence of any sexual intent at all.
We bring up this topic specifically in relation to sexually-based crimes. These are obviously serious offenses that should be treated as such — but our perception of these crimes is mainly guided by high-profile and headline-grabbing cases, and the consequences sometimes are the product of headline seeking legislators looking to be appear as tough as can be in sex crimes cases.
Bad laws like this can be easily abused by those with ill intentions and they put all people who have been accused or convicted of a sex crime in one big basket. We label them all as sex offenders and we treat them all as if they are the worst possible kind of sexual predators. When, in fact, there are often varying circumstances in their cases that don’t make them out to be the monsters that many people perceive them to be. and some are just changing their child’s diaper.
Reform over sex crime consequences and sex offender registration is tough. No lawmaker wants to be seen as being soft on people who commit sexually-based offenses. But this topic needs to be addressed, lest we condemn most people convicted of such crimes to a lifetime of inadequacy and ostracization. And laws that require a parent to go to trial and assert an affirmative defense that they were just changing their child’s diaper and had no sexual intent or interest should never be passed or upheld.