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War Criminals in Europe Vs Sex Offenders in America

The former Yugoslavia was a country where war criminals tortured and killed thousands of people; and where more than 60,000 rapes took place. These criminals were sent to an International Criminal Court and from there they went to Scheveningen – a detention unit in Hague, Holland. Here, cells were equipped with satellite dishes, coffee machines, and comfortable beds. I now fully understand the meaning of the phrase “innocent until proven guilty”. There was clear evidence against these people; the lengthy videos, photographs, documentation, and victims as well as expert witnesses. By European law, they were still not guilty and some of these criminals died naturally before any kind of punishment could be imposed. The most important reason this happened, besides a great amount of support from people, was because the criminal justice system took their side. Conversely, let’s look at the United States of America, and see what happens when there is a gap in the system, into which a person may fall unexpectedly.

Many people who are disadvantaged by their low-social status, go quickly through “profiling”, the process of drawing conclusions based on criminal behaviors, motives, personalities, and demographic descriptions from a crime scene along with other evidence. Due to this “fast-line” through which this supposed justice is served, and based on 2.7 % of accuracy, the mind of a potential criminal is often decoded by the most popular tool called assumption. For example, one could be labeled as a sex offender based on their “dirty” mind rather than their actions. In addition, 95 % of criminal cases are resolved through the process of “plea bargaining” instead of being decided in a criminal trial. This might inspire us to ethically evaluate this widely used method of criminal justice. Are people who are pleading guilty really bringing the truth to the table or are they agreeing to this popularized ultimatum to lessen their punishment?

Nevertheless, compared to other criminals, sex offenders, even though nearly three-quarters of them do not commit another sex offense, will be stigmatized greater. In addition, many false testimonies and false confessions are related to sex-based crimes, and many of them were committed by juvenile offenders (here, we need to bear in mind that confessions led to a conviction rate of 73%, and that eyewitnesses testimonies produced conviction rates of only approximately 58%). Finally, compared to other ex-cons, sex offenders are more labeled, hated, and feared, inside and outside of prisons. It is clear, that legal liabilities related to sex-crimes usually exist to ensure public safety not constitutional rights of accused. Unfortunately, even though some people are more vulnerable to become victims, nobody is immune from being wrongfully accused and convicted of something which never happened. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, there are war criminals in Europe who will one day be released into the free world and unlike sex offenders, they are not required to register, they will never experience any type of banishment, and their movement will not have so many limitations.

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