New Divide Over How to Treat Young Sex Offenders
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Juvenile Justice Advocates Say Wide Disparities Remain in State Policies
(AP) When Ricky Blackman was 16, he pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl, and an Iowa judge ordered him to register as a sex offender.
But if Blackman had lived in at least a half-dozen other states, his name would never have appeared on a registry because states are deeply divided on how to deal with America's youngest sex offenders.
Juvenile justice advocates want rehabilitation instead of registration, yet public safety experts argue children must be protected from predators, even if they are minors.
The confusing array of rules for juvenile sex offenders persists despite a vast overhaul that was adopted four years ago to bring clarity and consistency to U.S. sex offender regristration laws.
"It's a real bind for the states," said Michele Deitch, an attorney who teaches criminal justice policy at the University of Texas.