Green gone wrong

Everyone always gets a good laugh when they see bright yellow party plates, but if a new law passes, another color of plates might make you walk a little faster.

Legislation is in the works in Ohio that would require convicted sex offenders and child predators to place special license plates on their cars — fluorescent green license plates. The attempt for similar legislation started in 2002 after Kristen Jackson was raped and killed in Wooster by a convicted sex offender.

After other failed attempts, this new bill focuses on violent, repeat sex offenders or those who sexually attack or molest children. It doesn’t include those who are convicted of public exposure or consensual sex with a minor.

Both Ohio democrats and republicans are working to pass the bill, and Gov. Ted Strickland’s press secretary said the governor will sign the bill if the General Assembly passes it.

While we fully support the attempts to raise awareness of the sex offenders in the area, we wonder why these types of sex offenders are still on the streets in the first place. But since the solution of locking up such convicted criminals does not seem to be a priority for legislators, we think these new plates are a bit pointless.

First, there is the danger of people going vigilante on the sex offenders. We’re certainly not trying to protect these people, but what if a sex offender with the plates is driving his or her child to school (scary that he or she would have a child in the first place, sure), and a passer-by feels the need to attack the people in the car simply because of the green plates. What if a family member needs to use the green-plated car? They could be subjected to that violence, too.

This proposed law is about protecting the children, but there are other future circumstances no one seems to be addressing. The plates should be used only as identifiers to keep people aware of sex offenders, not to make them targets. It’s na’ve to think that some people won’t try to use violence against anyone in that car, regardless of whether they are the sex offender or someone who is related to that individual.

Moreover, the threat of driving around with fluorescent green plates is not going to stop someone who has the desire to rape a 10-year-old. Sexual offenses are commonly a psychological crime, and state money should go to helping the mind, not decorating the car.

And how will the plates be enforced? Sex offenders are required to register on a county-wide list wherever they live; however, that isn’t going as well as legislators expected. We foresee these offenders may just drive a car and skip out on another level of punishment.

We appreciate the attempts to enforce policies that deter sexual offenses, but couldn’t more work have been done to sentence offenders to both harsher jail terms and therapy programs during the time it took to get the bill for green plates passed? Priorities seem off-kilter.

As a side note, isn’t green the color of horny people? Strange.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.