MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 12, 2013

Victims first, sex offenders second


— While Oklahoma legislators consider whether to toughen penalties against sex offenders, there are some who say the laws are tough enough — even too tough.

Some of those convicted of sex offenses in Oklahoma claim the penalties make it nearly impossible to return to normal lives.

To those who find life after a sex crime conviction to be uncomfortable, we say, don’t commit a sex crime.

The issue at stake is the state’s sex offender registry.

Some of those whose convictions include registering as a sex offender for life find it difficult to regain and maintain a normal existence. They say new requirements would be too strict for someone who has paid his or her debt to society.

The sex offender registry might be too tough if we are talking about someone convicted of public urination.

But for those convicted of rape, a sex crime against a child, or any other violent sex crime, our empathy ends very quickly.

One person who testified before a House committee said she would be unable to attend her nephew’s birthday parties or pick up her children from school if they became ill.

Regina McKay, a former teacher convicted of second-degree rape involving a 17-year-old male, said new laws could keep her from walking in the park with her husband.

Maybe, at most, the crimes listed under sex offenses should be reviewed to make sure they are fair.

But rather than making state legislators worry about a sex convict’s ability to return to a normal life, the convicts should be thinking about whether their victims will ever be able to return to a normal life.