Friday, August 17, 2007

No Second Chance

Florida now lists teens as young as 14 on the state's sex offender registry, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Florida legislators unanimously approved the law, citing the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act as justification (note: complying with this Act can result in significant federal funding). According to the article, "The Adam Walsh Act, which went into effect last year, requires children 14 and older who engage in genital, anal or oral-genital contact with children younger than 12 to be included in community-notification laws, such as the predator list."

Critics of the law state that parents, who are often the first to learn of teens' behaviors, "may be reluctant to seek help for their children if they will be labeled and their families' homes identified on the sex offender list." Thus, the behaviors will go unreported and the youth will not receive treatment or counseling. Other critics argue that a minor who commits sex offenses should be treated and rehabilitated -- not punished for the rest of his or her life.

Currently, in accordance with Megan's Law, a person who is classified as a sex offender has to register for the rest of his or her life -- and any contact information needs to be made available to the pubic. However, a person can petition to be removed after a minimum of 10 years.

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