Friday, July 20, 2007

Security as Separation

At the heart of the movement toward mass incarceration on the one hand, and the gating of communities on the other, is an identification of security with spatial separation from those perceived as dangerous.

The latest form this mandate toward risk segregation in space takes in Jessica's Law, the ballot initiative approved overwhelmingly by California voters in 2004 that requires convicted sex offenders to reside more than 2,000 feet from schools or parks. As reported in the Sacramento Bee, more than 2,000 sex offenders paroled from prison since the law went into effect, are in violation of the law.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary James Tilton, acknowledged that the state does not have the capacity to achieve complete compliance or to subject every such offender to GPS monitoring, also as required by the law.

Beyond the question of enforceability, is the question of why modern Americans associate security so closely with walls and other forms of physical separation. The sex offender who does not live near my child's favorite park, is not necessarily less of a threat to that child.


Unknown said...

It is through the fear tactics of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association that the masses are misled. Money should be spent on prevention and identification of unreported sex crimes. Banishment and exile of registered offenders is a waste of valuable resources. Prosecute, don't persecute.

Michael Zhou said...

I did my wiki entry on Megan's Law in your class last semester, so this interests me a great deal. Too often these laws give parents a false sense of security in thinking that as long as registered sex offenders don't live in their neighborhood, their children are somehow invulnerable.