As has been much blogged, Georgia's Supreme Court recently upheld a 10-year sentence for Genarlow Wilson, who was prosecuted for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. Wilson was just 17 at the time, and he's already served almost two years. Glenn Reynolds, who thinks the punishment excessive, comments, "What's more, were the genders reversed I doubt that it would even have been prosecuted."
Possibly, but I think Reynolds is underestimating Georgia's enthusiasm for turning every last man, woman, and child into a convicted sex offender. I've written before about the plight of Wendy Whitaker, who was tagged an offender for giving a boy a blow job as a tenth grader. She was 17; he was 15. She's just one of thousands on the list who are there for consensual sex crimes, and she's not the only woman.
While it sounds like the range of serious sex crimes may be narrowing (Wilson was punished under a dated law that deemed oral sex far more egregious a crime than genital sex), the range of restrictions on convicted sex offenders is expanding. That means people like Whitaker and Wilson, who were punished under laws that have since been changed, will continue getting hit with ever more petty constraints on their daily lives and residency restrictions that keep them permanently on the move. The list of offenders is going to keep growing, and the range of places they can live shrinking.