Hit & Run

State Senator Wants to Stop Incarcerated Sex Offenders from Seeing Pictures of Children

Pointless grandstanding

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Jail
Willeecole

New York State Senator Chris Jacobs has proposed a law that would prohibit any person serving time for a sex offense against a minor from "possessing a depiction of any minor."

Taken literally, the text of the bill makes it a crime for such a person to receive a wallet photo of his own kid. Any magazine that wasn't AARP would pose a legal minefield. And if somehow the prisoner got his hands on a VHS copy of Home Alone, forget it. He's never getting out.

"How can the guards even manage?" asked Vicki Henry, president of Women Against Registry, an advocacy group that opposes public sex offender registries. Henry asks an important question. Will security guards be expected to confiscate every picture—and drawing—of a kid? Is a holiday card with baby angels contraband? Would prisoners have to snip Robin out of their Batman comic books?

And how would this make anyone even one bit safer?

Clearly the bill is not actually about safety. It's about optics. This state senator wants to appear as if he cares more than anyone else about protecting children. But all his bill would do is make life even more miserable for people already serving time for their misdeeds.