Thursday, November 21, 2013

Healthy Communities Include Former Sex Offenders

I appreciate the position presented by Becky Jones (11/15 Overexposure of sex offenders) that putting out too much information about former offenders is "not healthy for any community" and might even "lead to further crime against them" (I find the word "further" interesting here).

I would agree that it is "not healthy" when the children of former offenders are bullied and harassed at school because of the prior crimes of their parents. It is definitely "not healthy" for the parents of former offenders to have the cars they are driving, cars listed on the public registry as belonging to their registered-sex-offender-sons, vandalized, smashed, or shot at. And when, this past summer in South Carolina, a wife was brutally murdered along with her former-sex-offender-husband, that definitely was "not healthy."

However, while I agree with these points, I question Ms. Jones's final point that "We should be made aware of their presence in our neighborhoods...." I ask on what basis Ms. Jones holds this position.

Studies done examining the benefit of public notification of those on the registry have found none. No correlation is found between public notification and public safety. Indeed, negative factors have been found that decrease the stability of registrants living in the community, and that decrease of stability is correlated with less public safety.

I suppose that having one's children beat up and one's parents shot at would decrease one's stability.

It is time to re-think our laws and practices dealing with the management of former sex offenders living in the community. Studies also verify that the majority will not commit another sexual offense. We must base our laws on facts and research-based evidence.

That is the only way to build communities that are "healthier" for everyone.

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