Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What is a "Sex Offender"?

Over at Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok has a post about laws that prevent sex offenders from living near schools. In it, he notes:
And for those whose first thought is to roast sex offenders in hell it should be noted that the list includes "a 26-year-old woman who was caught engaging in oral sex when she was in high school, and a mother of five who was convicted of being a party to a crime of statutory rape because, her indictment alleged, she did not do enough to stop her 15-year-old daughter's sexual activity."

I think this is an important point. I've seen lists of sex offenders where it's not very clear at first what exactly the people have done, and with a little poking around it becomes apparent that some of the crimes were much worse than others. Perhaps we need some more precise terms to be applied here rather than just calling everyone a "sex offender."

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