When Everything is a Crime and Some of those Crimes can Haunt You for the Rest of Your Life

By , May 7, 2013 12:23 pm

This led me to think of this, which led me to discover this, which discusses this.

Can we all agree that 4,500 federal laws and regulations with criminal penalties–not to mention the myriad criminal laws and regulations on the books in 50 different states–are maybe just a bit much?

Don’t think so? Then read the following, which is from the first link above:

The report [issued by Human Rights Watch on the life-shattering consequences of putting minors on sex registries for offenses — sometimes shockingly mild offenses — for the rest of their lives] begins with Jacob C., who was 11 years old when convicted of one count of sexual misconduct in Michigan for touching, not penetrating, his sister’s genitals. He was not allowed to live in a home with other children, was eventually put into foster care and was placed on a sex registry that was made public when he turned 18. He struggled to graduate from high school, and was shunned because of his registration status. And when he enrolled in college, he said, campus police followed him everywhere. He dropped out.

Now 26, the report says, Jacob’s life continues to be defined and limited by a conviction at age 11.

But at least we’ve been kept safe from him, right?

The story goes on to explain that even the most innocuous behavior–behavior typical of college and high school students virtually everywhere–can land you on the list:

Registries can also include ‘people who have committed offenses like public urination, indecent exposure (such as streaking across a college campus), and other more relatively innocuous offenses.’

Now what do you think? Hells bells, I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the friends I had in high school who did things of that sort while at good old Powell High School. I may have done one or two of them myself, but my memory’s fading–thankfully.

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