Now a Republican who manages to win elections, State Senator Gene Abdallah (R-10/Sioux Falls), is calling for making exceptions for juveniles and maybe others on the sex offender list:
"We're looking at the possibility of making exceptions to get off the list after a certain period of time depending on the seriousness of the offense," Abdallah said.
Senator Gene Abdallah is the chairman of the committee looking at the changes. Abdallah says some of the offenders on the sex offender registry don't deserve to be on it their entire life.
"We've had examples of 16 and 18 year olds dating, and he's considered an adult at 18, and she's not, and something happens and he gets on the sex offender registry and is on there for life," Abdallah said [Ben Dunsmoor, "Changes to Sex Offender Registry Considered," KELOLand.com, 2009.08.14].
Something happens... um, Gene, since when did you stop believing in free will and personal responsibility? This sounds dangerously like sexist (yes, check the senator's pronouns) boys-will-be-boys excuse-making. Just how well will "something happened" fly as an excuse for lighter sentences for other crimes?
More hilarity ensues as Abdallah tries to avoid headlines like mine:
Abdallah doesn't want to call it weakening the laws, he says he is still in favor of keeping some of the most serious offenders on the registry for life.
"I'm not in favor of weakening or diluting any laws when it comes to sex offenders or crime for that matter, but I do feel we should be fair," Abdallah said.
Being fair to some of those that are serving an online life sentence, on the sex offender registry* [Dunsmoor, 2009.0814].
I'm o.k. with fairness. I'm willing to have a discussion about whether we can fairly impose on certain criminals lifelong restrictions on where they can live and work. Maybe fairness does require weakening the law (although SDCL 22-24B-19 already spells out a number of criteria that allow offenders to get off the list). But Senator Abdallah does language and logic harm (once again!) with his clumsy word games. Right now, an adult having sex with a child is a sex offender. If Senator Abdallah wants to declare that such an adult is not a criminal, or is a less heinous criminal, just because the adult is dating that child or is in love with that child, then he should just say so and call his proposal what it is: a weakening of the sex offender law.
*Dang it, there's another one of those sloppy KELO sentence fragments!