Friday, November 22, 2013

Just How Offensive Can a Sex Offender Be?

A short while ago I read an opinion piece entitled, "Viewpoint: Sex offenders need stronger punishments," in the Baylor Lariat.

The author ridiculed the 5th annual conference held by Reform Sex Offender Laws, Inc. in Los Angeles the end of August and said that he found a conference held by those who seek reform to these laws to be offensive.                            
I find his taking offense at this offensive. The author said that these laws placing people on a public registry, often for life, laws that impede their rebuilding their lives, are needed to protect children. I find this to be untrue.

It is no secret to anyone, except possibly the writer of "Viewpoint...," that virtually all child sexual abuse is committed by those close to the children in their lives, specifically their family members, their peers, and their authority figures, individuals who almost certainly have no previous arrest records for sexual offenses. This fact renders the public sex offender registry impotent as a means of protecting children from sexual crime.

In fact, experts in the field credit the registry and the entire sex offender industry that has grown up around it with obfuscating the real problem of child sexual abuse by keeping the focus turned in the wrong direction.

The author of this opinion piece states disbelievingly, "Yet those that are labeled as sex offenders...believe that laws that limit where they can live or where they can go are too restrictive and repressive." I find this surprising. How could this author not know that empirical evidence supports that view and goes even further? Research shows no correlation between these types of restrictions and public safety; therefore, whatever resources are spent on supporting and enforcing these restrictions are wasted.

They are indeed too restrictive and repressive in that they work against the goals of rehabilitation and community reintegration, which do work toward public safety; however, their greatest shortcoming is that they are not based on facts or empirical evidence; this is why they are ineffective.

And finally the author appeals to the plight of the victims and the loss of their innocence and their years of pain. I find this disingenuous and hypocritical, for he is supporting a system that has in its bloated budget little to nothing for victims' services, which helps past victims, or for prevention, which is designed to help present victims and reduce the number of future ones. He uses the pain of victims, which is indeed real, to support his emotional appeal, yet he suggests nothing that will help victims or work toward prevention.

I find that this author has written an opinion on a subject about which he has done no research and has little to no factual information.

However, this need not be a terminal disorder. If he wishes to find the truth, he will find these to be helpful.

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