In the latest edition of the criminal justice publication “Crime & Public Policy,” the editors added a few new categories. Included among the newest categories is one for sex crimes. As Ted Gest for the Crime Report writes, one of the most “authoritative” criminal justice publications is meant for policymakers at high levels, like mayors and governors.
According to Stanford Law School’s Joan Petersilia (one of the editors of the publication), a governor, for example, should be able to read the publication and be able to trust it when he or she is making decisions regarding public policy as it relates to criminal law. As Gest reports, Petersilia said, “Public policy goes awry when legislators react in a knee-jerk way.”
Crime & Public Policy has been available since 1983 and draws on “the most comprehensive, sophisticated intelligent thinking that academics had to offer,” said Petersilia.
It is fortunate that something like Crime & Public Policy exists, because, as Gest writes, being “tough on crime” still gets votes – and most criminal defense attorneys would likely agree with that. Given the Draconian measures in place for any alleged sex crime, and the wide-ranging scope of what is classified as a sex crime in the state of Maryland, it seems as though some public policy has gone too far.
When it comes to sex offenders, Petersilia said, “it’s five percent of the criminal population that drives half of the policy discussions.” She goes on to say this: “The restrictions may make the public seem safe but aren’t consistent with the evidence,” referring to lifetime monitoring of sex offenders and residence restrictions.
Avoiding “knee-jerk” creation of public policy is important. As anyone charged with a sex crime in Maryland knows, there is no such thing as a minor sex crime.
Source: The Crime Report, “A Criminal Justice Primer for Policymakers,” by Ted Gest, 06/06/11