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Misleading labels attached to those convicted of crimes

Certain federal and state laws mandate that the public be warned when certain kinds of convicted offenders move into a given residential area. However, many individuals convicted of certain sex offenses do not actually fit the profile of the labels that they are compelled to wear.

For example, a man labeled as a sexually violent predator in accordance with sex offender registration laws decided to move to Fort Collins. When he did so, law enforcement stepped up surveillance of his residence and his neighbors treated him with disdain due to the label he was given as a matter of law. However, the man had not ever carried out a sexually violent crime of which the public has any knowledge.

Rather, the man was convicted of sexual assault of a child when he was in his 20's. He had begun having a relationship with a teenager at that time and their relationship continued until she became pregnant and delivered their child. He admits that he made a significant mistake, but he was never violent with his sexual partner, who consented to the relationship to the extent that any teenager can.

Now, the man will be considered a violent sexual predator for the rest of his life due to the label that the state has bestowed upon him. Problematically, the label does not accurately match the nature of the man's offense.

The criminal justice system aims to strike a balance between public safety and the personal freedoms of those who have been accused and/or convicted of criminal activity. When inaccurate labeling forever alters the course of an individual's life for the worse, the system experiences unjust imbalance that requires correction.

Source: Coloradoan, "Behind the label 'sexually violent predator,'" Robert Allen, Feb. 10, 2013

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