Saturday, September 28, 2013

Getting Sex Offender Management Right

Every once in a while, someone will get it right. These three articles, all just out, give accurate, fact-based information and opinions regarding sex offender management and treatment.

"Sex Offenders Aren't all Monsters," written by Dianne Frazee-Walker, appears in a blog titled Prison Law News. Referring often to Nicole Pitman's Human Rights Watch report on juvenile offenders, this article addresses the damage done to youth when they are publicly labeled as beyond redemption.

This excellent article by Lawrence Bench and Terry Allen summarizes the research done by the authors and their findings. They encountered, not surprisingly, opposition to their work, but they fought and won to have it published in a peer-reviewed journal from the Utah Department of Corrections. "Toward a strategic sex offender policy" should be required reading for every legislator who is writing or supporting any sex offender legislation now or in the future.

"To Spot a Predator," written by Josh Dooley, is a horse of a different color and what drove me here again after a too-long absence. While it generalizes and over-simplifies some things, it also makes some good points, and it makes one point extremely well; children are primarily at risk for sexual harm not from strangers, not from registered sex offenders, but from those they know and trust and often love.

This undeniable fact, supported  by every source out there, is in direct opposition to what our society, our media, and our government focuses on and expends virtually all resources on.

The structure in place to track and monitor every single person who has committed any type of offense that can be labeled a sex offense, and some that are not, is a multi-million dollar industry. Many of the elements are mandated by the federal government. The propaganda machine that created, supports and continues to drive this industry has done an excellent job. We are to the point where the announcement that a registered offender has moved to a town or a neighborhood sends  everyone into panic and hysteria over protecting the children.

Before we can even begin to address the undeniable truth of child sexual abuse, we will have to dismantle a large portion of the machinery that moves the public sex offender registry and all that it has spawned. Only then will we have the resources to build something in its place that will address the problem.

Comprehensive services for sexual crime victims, completely missing in what we currently have, are vital. Vastly improved rehabilitation, reentry, and support services for those who have offended, served their sentences, and want to build law-abiding lives are vital. And comprehensive and intensive programs of awareness, education, and prevention in every school and community are vital.

Isn't it time that what we have in place to address the problem at least knows what the problem is?

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