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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Does the crime match the time?

Prep school student, Owen Labrie, had a bright future ahead of him at the age of 18: graduating from the elite St. Paul’s School and heading for Harvard. Now at 20 years old, he has been sentenced to one year in jail and to register on the sex offenders list for raping a 15-year-old girl while still attending St. Paul’s.

While this punishment seems suitable enough for Labrie’s crime, it brings to light the many people whose lives have been ruined after being registered as a sex offender without deserving such harsh punishment.

Take for example Zachary Anderson, 19, who was registered as a sex offender after having consensual sex with a 14-year-old girl who lied that she was 17 on a dating app.

As a result, Anderson is prohibited from visiting certain public places such as schools and parks, and from using the Internet for five years, which interferes with his computer science studies at his community college. He also cannot live with his family due to the fact that he’d be living with his 15-year-old brother, a minor.

During the trial of this case, even the victim wrote a letter apologizing for the way in which her lie had created years of anxiety for Anderson. But according to the law, Anderson’s actions were negligent — it didn’t matter that it had been the 14-year-old girl who had fooled him into committing the crime.

Similarly, there have also been cases in which people become part of the horrid label for urinating in public. As Men’s Health reported earlier this May, Human Rights Watch’s 2007 review of sex offender laws shows that sex offender status is possible for public urination in at least 13 states.

There is no comparison between a person who couldn’t hold the urge to urinate any longer and a person who took advantage of another by forcing them into sexual intercourse. Yet, certain laws state that they deserve the same life-long punishment for their actions.

Another scenario possible for sex offender status is teen sexting, which is the creation and distribution of child pornography. There is no doubt that sexting is a delicate issue that should have serious consequences, but scarring a teenager’s life for a dumb mistake that they made in grade school is not the appropriate way to punish them.

It is important to take in mind that these teenagers are at the adolescent stage in which their sexual curiosity is at peak.

As criminal defense lawyer Marina Medvin explained to the Huffington Post, “these kids are legally allowed to engage in sexual activity, but then they are precluded from photographing or depicting such an act.”

The laws punishing sexting vary by state, yet it doesn’t change the fact that teens face the possibility of sex offender status for simply feeding their curiosity.

Not only do these teens have a strong sexual curiosity, but it is also the phase in which they act without taking in mind that their actions might actually have serious consequences.

It is much too drastic to punish a person for their entire life for their naïveté as a teen.

Of course, crimes like urinating in public and passing around teen nudes should have serious consequences, but not sentences to a life of discrimination, anxiety and humiliation.

It is absurd to think that a 13-year-old boy can receive the same punishment as a rapist, simply because we refuse to make adjustments to the laws pertaining to sexual offenses.

Those people whom Mother Nature called at the wrong time and wrong place, and those teens who were beaten by sexual curiosity are now doomed to a life in which looking for a home means running away from public parks and having to be completely accepted by all neighbors.

It is even harder to be accepted by neighbors when the person’s record explains their crime in terms such as “lewd” or “lascivious” rather than actually depicting the not-so-ludicrous crime.

Instead of dehumanizing so many people by listing them on sex offender registries, it is time that adjustments are made to sex offense laws.

Follow Genesis Lara on Twitter.

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