June 11, 2007

First sex offenders, now domestic violence offenders, next -- ?

Despite mounting evidence that sex offender registries do more harm than good, legislators are now proposing to expand the concept to domestic violence offenders.

A bill introduced into the Pennsylvania legislature would create a Megan’s law-style database of people convicted of domestic violence. If the law passes, such offenders would have their photos and addresses posted online for all to see.

Like convicted sex offenders, domestic violence offenders would also have to notified police within 10 days of moving. In a new wrinkle, they would have to mail a form to the police every 90 days to confirm their address of residency.

If the law passes, it could open the floodgates for politicians who have found that meaningless tough-on-crime laws get votes. Who knows what costly and ineffective registries will follow. Registries for drug offenders? Drunk drivers? Antiwar protesters?