If proponents get their way, sex offenders in the Midwest and South—the region I like to call the Unchecked Suburban Panic Belt—are going to have to get their cars fitted for special day-glo license plates.
Proponents in Wisconsin, Ohio and Alabama say the sex offender plates would be another tool to keep the public safe. Critics say the plates would lead to a false sense of security and unintended consequences.
"For too long child sex predators have been watching our children," said state Rep. Joel Kleefisch, a Wisconsin Republican. "It's time we have an opportunity to watch them back."
Children are color-coded and tagged? Wait, is that what all those parents are buying at Gap Kids?
USA Today gives over some column space to the plan's critics.
Carl Wicklund, executive director of the American Probation and Parole Association, said he isn't sure the license plate laws would make communities safer. He said they potentially could create a false sense of security.
Wicklund said the vast majority of sex offenses are committed by people the victim knows.
"What (lawmakers) try to get across to the public is sex offenders are these people who jump out of the bushes," he said. "That's much more the exception than the rule."
Wicklund also said many lawmakers are reluctant to oppose bills that crack down on sex offenders.
"It takes an awful lot of political capital to say, 'No, that's not the way to go,' " he said.
As all of these damn laws are, the pioneering Ohio law is named after a dead girl ("Kristen's Law").
Ron Bailey-style disclosure: I am not actually a sex offender.