Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One Case Showing the Problems of Criminal Law in America

Edgar Coker was 15 when he had consensual sex with a girl one year younger than himself. The girl, however, terrified of her father, decided to claim she was raped. Edgar was arrested. And he was offered a deal. If he pled guilty his sentence would be much easier, but if he insisted on his innocence, even though he was innocent, he would be tried an adult. Prosecutors love to force people to pled guilty by holding threats over their heads—and whether they really are guilty or not matters none to these petty bureaucrats wanting to become major bureaucrats.

Edgar and his family thought his only chance of surviving the justice system was a guilty plea otherwise the prosecutor would make his life a living hell. Worse, the defense attorney knew the girl had made such claims previously and then, when the judge ordered Edgar be put on the disgusting "sex offenders registry" she did nothing to protest the move—which amounts to a life sentence of harassment.

Then the girl admits she lied. The girls mother joins those defending Edgar and demanding justice. With some effort they got him released from juvenile detention—it's nice to know that they don't incarcerate innocent people for too long after they were proven innocent.

So, everything's good, except for that sex offender registry, but is that such a big deal?

"The family has moved several times, twice because of complaints from neighbors who learned that Edgar Coker Jr. was on the registry. Once, a neighborhood girl made a false sexual allegation against one of his brothers, and someone else left this note on their door when they lived in Stafford County: "We don't want a rapist living in our neighborhood."

As for Edgar he had to receive special permission to go to high school. But he couldn't take that. Seeking a job requires him to reveal he is a "sex offender" even though he isn't. So he doesn't look for work. He sits at home, afraid. What they are finding is that his innocence isn't enough to get Edgar removed from the sex offender registry. They have all sorts of methods and excuses to put people on the list, but apparently no one is sure how to remove someone. Once damned always damned. Edgar's mother says she doesn't believe "that anyone can undo the damage that has been done to him." And, remember, he is innocent of any crime.

People have to realize the Sex Offender Registries have become a sick joke. People are listed on them for the most inane things. Stopping to take a piss at the side of the road is now a "sex" offense. A kid can streak a school event and suddenly find he's a sex offender. The Puritans in America have criminalized virtually everything having to do with sex and nudity so things which before were considered normal are now sex offenses. Kids running around a playground slapping one another's butts were arrested as sex offenders. A woman who gave a blow job to another student when in high school has been on the sex registry for decades and continually loses her home over it, because of the cruel zoning laws that apply to sex offenders only.

We had one case where a man was arrested as a sex offender because he hired a stripper. The prosecutor said he used a stolen credit card and therefore committed a crime for sexual purposes. The theft of a credit card put the man on the sex offenders registry for life. A teenage boy was with a friend who robbed a Dairy Queen, for that he is on the sex offenders list. Apparently a customer was under 18 years of age and the robber made him stay in the store during the robbery. In Georgia forceable detention of a minor is a sex crime—unless I'm sure, if the schools do it. So you can be a sex offender without doing anything sexual.

The registries are a major reason that many sex offenders just choose to disappear now. The registries actually make it more difficult for released offenders from returning to a normal life and increases the risk of reoffending. The registries also tie up police resources because they have to visit all offenders periodically, even those who haven't reoffended and are doing well. It doesn't allow police to prioritize which ones to keep track of. So, in fact, police have made cursory visits to serious offenders and missed things like women being held captive in the back yard. With only a few minutes to spend at each location the visits are more routine than investigatory now. It didn't used to be that way, but the registry makes it so.

And, we have had individuals use registries to gain information on individuals and murder them. One case was a young man who had sex with his girlfriend who was slightly under the state age of consent. It wasn't rape, but that didn't matter. He was executed when he opened his door to a stranger, his mother witnessed the murder. In other cases these registries are so out of date that addresses that haven't been in use for decades are still listed. People who have done nothing but move into a new house have found themselves harassed as sex offenders because of someone who lived in the house some years before. The registries have been a disaster and need to go. At the very least they should be accessible to law enforcement only, and not to any moron with a gun and half a brain.

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