Monday, June 21, 2010

Should registered sex offenders be coaches?

Should registered sex offenders be coaches? Senator Charles Schumer says, "No!"

"Convicted sex offenders should not be able to hold any job or volunteer position where they have interaction with children in New York or across the country, period," Schumer said. "The fact that these sex offenders are able to coach our children's teams, operate rides at fairs, and teach them dance and music is beyond scary and we must take immediate action to stop it. My hope is that my new legislation closes this huge loophole so no children are put into harm's way."

Additional jobs that could come under the measure would be tutors, youth mentors, workers at recreation centers, video arcades, and children's museums.

The measure would require states to pass laws prohibiting employment of sex offenders in those private sector jobs or lose out on specific federal funding.

On the surface, such a law seems to make sense, as many of these sex offender laws do. Unfortunately, the label, "sex offender", is applied all too broadly. Consider the young man in college who attends a party with his girlfriend. They have too much to drink. Lines are blurred. She says that he crossed one. He takes a plea deal to avoid going to jail. He has to register as a sex offender. He later marries and has a family and lives a productive life in society. Should he be prohibited from being a coach of his son's Little League baseball team?

Of course, such a federal law is a long away from being passed. Even if such a federal mandate is enacted, states may well choose to ignore it, as they recently have other federal sex offender laws.