We need to think carefully about being "tough on crime"

The story of Corey Walgren is absolutely horrific. After being intimidated by police with a “sex offender” label that would ruin his life, he threw himself of a parking garage and died. Death is an absurdly disproportionate punishment to the crime he committed.

If the allegations against Walgren were true, he should have been subject to some sort of legal sanction. He allegedly recorded a sexual encounter with his girlfriend and shared the audio with friends, which is a terrible invasion of privacy and betrayal of trust. What his actions were not, however, is “child pornography.” Putting him on a sex offender registry with that label, and a conviction for that crime would have destroyed the young man’s life. No wonder he saw no hope, and killed himself.

Had Walgren not shared the encounter, he would have gone unnoticed. High school students have sex with each other, and while it is immoral and a violation of God’s law to have sex outside of marriage, he would not have faced consequences from law enforcement. But because he recorded the encounter, he was threatened with an obscene charge. Technically, he would have been both the victim and the perpetrator of the crime, since he himself is underage.

I believe in being tough on crime. I am an enthusiastic advocate of the death penalty for the worst criminals. But in our zeal to punish evil and protect the innocent, we need to have a sense of proportion, which requires wisdom, discernment, intelligence, and (most importantly) the ability to put aside emotion and use logic and reason instead. The police did not do that with Corey Walgren. I hope that his tragic death will change things, but I know it will not.

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