Mary Sanchez of the Kansas City Star comments on a trend in Kansas to mark the driver’s license of ex-cons with the words “REGISTERED OFFENDER” in bold red letters. She writes, “Such scarlet letter-like driver's licenses are…becoming more common. Parolees with a wider range of convictions are being ordered to carry them.
“Viewed from one perspective, the licenses appear to be a good idea. Mark the convict and assume the branding will be an alert, keeping society safe. But this is one public safety issue that isn't that straightforward, which is likely news to some of the legislators who initiated it. Determining just what the “REGISTERED OFFENDER” mark of shame conveys is increasingly difficult, as the convictions that call for such a license continue to expand, from an initial mandate for sex offenses to the inclusion of many violent crimes and now some drug offenses.”