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Former sex offender for sheriff?

Sex offenses are very serious criminal charges. Not only can they lead to jail or prison time, but they often bring the sometimes lifetime burden of registration as a sex offender. Even if you do not have to register, the aftereffects of a conviction can be long-lasting.

Last month, a man in Bay City, Michigan put his name in consideration for the job of the county sheriff. His election bid was controversial, as he had been convicted 22 years ago of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The incident appears to have involved urinating in public. He noted he was "young and stupid."

In 2008, he plead no contest to distributing or promoting child sexually abusive material. In that case, he had appeared in compromising photos. He claimed he produced racy calendars for mechanic and welding shops and there were some private photos were taken that included the ones he was charged with.

While questions are being raised as to why a registered sex offender should be sheriff, the larger question is why not. If he made mistakes and paid his debt to society, should he not be entitled to run.

For anyone charged with a sexually related offense, and for all those who are convicted, the reality is that there are few life sentence crimes in Michigan. Virtually all offenders will eventually be released and have to return to life outside of a prison. They need to be able to find work and earn a living, just the same as everyone else.

While his chances as a write-in candidate are probably not good, there is no reason why he should not have to opportunity to make his case to the voters. State law does not prohibit his running for the office and perhaps, with his experience from the other side, he has something useful to contribute to the debate over how law enforcement functions.

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