• 55°

Common-sense legislation took six years to pass

It took six years, a “Sixty Minutes” expose that embarrassed congressional leaders from both parties and a decline in Congress’ approval rating into the single digits, but, finally, it happened.

Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the STOCK Act. It was a bill that self-respecting members of Congress would have voted on the first time they laid eyes on it. It simply says that members of Congress and the government employees who work with them cannot use inside information they receive in the course of their duties to make a profit. …

But as one of the long-time proponents of the bill, the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation points out, the STOCK Act isn’t perfect. It doesn’t address the possible abuse of the system by political intelligence firms, it could have provided provisions that made it easier to pursue prosecution of corrupt officials and it exempted the sale and purchase of real estate.

But given that until CBS-TV shed new light on an old problem the House leadership had been intent on blocking any reform legislation, this is a giant step forward.

As Obama said when he signed the bill, it recognizes “the idea that everybody plays by the same rules … It goes hand in hand with our fundamental belief that hard work should pay off, and responsibility should be rewarded.”

Again, the only thing extraordinary is that passage took six years from the time that Reps. Louise Slaughter of New York and Tim Walz of Minnesota first introduced the bill.

The (Youngstown) Vindicator

 

Juvenile sex offenders need proper treatment

Many people rightly fear living near a sex offender, so a new ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court touches an issue that is emotionally and legally thorny: What to do with those who prey on children and are, themselves, still kids.

On one hand, adolescents are not small-scale adults. Their brains still are developing. Youthful, errant behavior might well be more a factor of immature judgment and weak impulse control than an adult’s firmly rooted criminal behavior.

On the other hand, publishing offenders’ names and photographs satisfies the public’s desire to be warned, so that children and other potential victims can be protected.

Ohio’s justices mirrored this split, ruling 5-2 on Tuesday to strike down a lifetime registration-and-notification requirement for the worst juvenile sex offenders. …

The court had no quibble with mandatory reporting for adults, but said the juvenile justice system is structured to redeem, cloaking names of offenders to permit them to get treatment and graduate into a lawful adulthood. The case involved an Athens County juvenile … who had admitted to raping his little sister when he was 11 and a younger nephew when he was 15. Along the way, he’d also molested five or six other young girls. ….

But while adult sexual offenders are the hardest of all criminals to rehabilitate, the majority of young sex offenders can be treated so that they do not commit more sexual offenses.

Two experts from the behavioral-health department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital … point to national studies that peg the recidivism rate at 7 to 14 percent for juvenile sex offenders who receive proper treatment. …

Obviously, the emphasis must be on ensuring that youthful sex offenders receive proper treatment.

The Columbus Dispatch