New to DVD and VOD this week:
New Orleans, Cleveland, Tallinn Black Nights, Miami, Cork, Berkshire, Antenna Doc, Big Sky Doc, Maryland, Stockholm, Milwaukee,
An exploration of the impact of sex offender legislation.
In the wake of high-profile cases of kidnapping, rape, and murder of children, such as the Jacob Wetterling case, tough laws were passed against sex offenders, including the development of a sex offender registry for use by law enforcement. Over time, that registry was opened up to the public, and punishments increased, such that now, many individuals convicted as sex offenders are basically punished for life, restricted in their movements and places of residence, and ostracized by communities and employers due to their placement on the registry. The problem, as pointed out in Feige’s even-handed, disturbing film, is that the laws are often so broadly defined that the same registry is used for serial predators as for teenagers sexting. Further, despite popular and legal opinion that tough punishments are necessary because of high rates of recidivism, these are not based on scientific fact; studies instead demonstrate that recidivism rates are remarkably low, and that existing restrictive laws do not make any noticeable difference. Feige profiles several individuals caught up in the system, including habitual pedophiles and individuals who made a mistake or were convicted on technicalities, as well as victims and families of victims who have been part of lobbying efforts to punish those who would hurt those who prey on children. While in no way condoning the abuse of children, the film asks tough questions about a one-size-fits-all system of punishment and society’s blinders when it comes to fact-checking common-sense conclusions not borne out by science.