Adjusting What We Think About Sexual Abusers

by Diane Dimond on May 16, 2011

Sex Offenders Must Be Punished

We’re pretty good at punishing people who are caught and convicted of sexual abuse. We’re not so good at stopping the abuse in the first place, especially when children are involved. After all these years of open discussion about this scourge why is it still so prevalent?

Because, we keep attacking the problem the same old way!

A new project from the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, funded by the Ms. (magazine) Foundation, concludes it is time for us to adjust our collective thinking about sex offenders.

Perhaps the A.T.S.A.’s most important conclusion is that media coverage of abuse “monsters” has warped our sense of who they really are. Television news, movies and books mainly focus on the most extreme “stranger danger” cases, those in which a child is kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered.

In reality, the sexual abuse of kids doesn’t usually come from outside their circle and murder is extremely rare.

Sex Offender Debra Lafave No "Monster"

Most often the perpetrator is a relative, a family friend or a trusted authority figure. But if a parent is intent on looking for a “monster” it’s easy for them to overlook warning signs from those closest to the family.

Another important conclusion? Too often we lump all abusers into one category and label them “sex offenders” or “sexual predators.” Not good and not smart.

Not All Registrants Are Dangerous

A serial pedophile is quite different from a teenage boy caught with his underage girlfriend and reported to police by angry parents. Some jurisdictions view an errant nude sunbather or a drunk who exposes himself to urinate in the street as a sex offender. And then, there is the category of children with deeply rooted sexual behavior problems. All have to be handled differently.

It doesn’t keep the community safe when we brand all of these diverse types with the same scarlet letter and make them all become registrants of an official, ever-growing and very public National Sex Registry. Too often that’s exactly what happens.

Ass'n For Treatment of Sexual Abusers

The just released project paper from the A.T.S.A. calculates that in 2007 and 2008 alone, “More than 1500 sex offender related bills were proposed in state legislatures … over 275 new laws were enacted.” Generally, they did two things: Increased incarceration time and put in place intricate (and costly) monitoring systems and restrictions on where the released offender is allowed to work, live and interact within a community once released back into society.

After the convict does his or her time and returns to life on the outside it’s as if the deck is forever stacked against them. What chance do they have to succeed if the stigma of being a registered sex offender keeps them from getting a well paying job or finding a place to live that is the mandated distance away from a school or public park? Even trying to join a church is tricky for them. If there is a Sunday school for youngsters on the property many states do not allow the convict to attend services there.

Some are Registered for Life

Everything they do for the rest of their lives will be viewed through the lens of their label: Sex Offender.

But, wait a minute, you say, “Once a sex offender always a sex offender, right? Not necessarily.

Don’t mistake what I write here as being soft on sexual criminals. I am not. In fact, I believe there are career pedophiles that should never – ever – get out of prison. But the latest Department of Justice statistics peg the likelihood of a child molester repeating their crime after they’ve done their time at just 5.3 percent. And, the DOJ study concludes that of the 5.3 percent who do re-offend 40% commit another sex crime within a year or less. In other words, that first year back on the outside is a crucial time for them – they either assimilate or they don’t.

Sex Offenses Profoundly Effect Innocent Families

The way these offenders are treated – their isolation and loneliness – often causes their closest family members to retreat in shame as well. It has been well documented that relatives of the abusers often struggle with the disgrace and stress that comes with having someone close to them convicted as a sex offender. It’s too bad that our societal Scarlet Letter brands them as well because family could be our first line of support to help keep the ex-con from re-offending.

I propose we all take a deep breath and stop adding new laws until we can figure out a better way to attack the problem.

First, forget the one-size-fits all category of “sex offender.” Let’s identify all the varieties of offenders and determine what their range of punishments should be. And, as for our National Sex Offenders Registry? Let’s not make the teenaged Romeo carry the stigma around for the rest of his life and let’s give those who have gone on to live law abiding lives for a set number of years the hope – the goal – of getting their names expunged.

We need to start thinking differently about how we define and tackle this problem. We’re smart. We can do better.

 

 

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Liddell May 16, 2011 at 5:49 am

Sex offenders often don’t commit their crimes until later in life and my understanding of these type of offenses is they are frequently due to someone being abused themselves at a young age, most people do not want to discuss such incidents in their lives which makes identifying and preventing sexual abusers difficult. It is the seeming ease of repeat offenders that bothers me. Obviously registering as a sex offender is not the solution. We recently had a three time offender, who received a job driving a taxi, solicit a young boy by pretending to be a young girl and lured the young boy to his taxi and murdered him. (search tag Justin Bloxom story) How could a registered sex offender get a job in public transportation to begin with. I know these people need to work but certainly there should be limitations on working situations for them.
It may always prove difficult to identify and stop initial incidents, but there should be a way to stop repeat offenders, perhaps through more rigid and public identification and monitoring.

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Mike June 12, 2011 at 10:26 am

Jeff,

Your Wrong! There are very few of us who go on to repeat our crimes. The biggest key to recovery (and there IS recovery) is to take responsibility for our past crime(s). Once responsibility is taken, therapy can begin. A person who has molested a child CAN live offense free for the rest of their lives. It takes work on the part of the ex-offender, but it can be done. I know…I am one of them, and I have not committed any crimes for over 11 years!

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Jerry June 12, 2011 at 10:32 pm

it has been almost 13 yrs for me also.

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 6:51 am

Creators Syndicate Reader Laurie writes:

“First of all, let me say, thank you so much for writing this article. In a world where laws and the need to punish and keep on punishing it is so refreshing to see someone brave enough to challenge the validity of these laws and speak out with the truth! So many are suffering and being punished to the extreme for non-violent crimes and placed on the registry as a sex offender for life. My son had never been in trouble a day in his life, he was a police officer and volunteer fire fighter who was arrested for viewing pornography. He was sentenced to 20 YEARS in prison and labeled a sex offender for LIFE. Even after he serves this horrible sentence he will be on the registry for LIFE so he has no chance to ever have a normal life again. I shudder to think what his life will be like even though he never touched anyone. He could have murdered someone and been out in less time and be allowed to resume his life and be a productive member of society. How in anyones mind is this fair??
Again, thank you so much for writing this article. It gives me hope that maybe by the time my son is released in 2025, these laws may be changed.”

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 6:53 am

ABQ Journal Reader Monique writes:

“Thank you so much for your article on sexual abuse.I did not think about these nuances and you are right, there are big differences among the type of offenses, I am now better better educated.”

Monique Keulen RN
Nurse Practitioner

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 6:54 am

ABQ Journal Reader Diane Layden writes:

“I hope your efforts to make people think are working.”

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 6:56 am

Creators Syndicate Reader Dorma Seago writes:

“Thank you for your article on sex offender laws. If only change could actually come. . . Please keep bringing this issue to light for all the families out there who have been crushed by these laws. I wonder how many children have been irreparable damaged by this law because a parent is a registered sex offender and they must live with this shame and horror. I would guess many, many more than have been positively impacted. Thank you for your advocacy for those who have paid a price, who are good human beings, and who deserve a chance to move on with their lives. “

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 6:59 am

Creators Syndicate Reader Tusau writes:

“The label “Sex Offender” is a life-shattering death warrant for a person on the registry for the reasons you gave. It is because of the consequences of being put on the registry that the 1995 New Jersey Supreme court decided that it was mandatory that a person’s risk be evaluated before he or she is put on the registry.
“[The] Plaintiff contends that the Registration and Notification Laws implicate liberty interests in privacy and reputation. Specifically, he argues that dissemination of information under the Notification Law impinges on the interest in nondisclosure, and that classification under the Notification Law, with its attendant disclosure, not only identifies him as a sex offender but effectively brands him as potentially currently dangerous, thereby infringing his interest in reputation. We find that both interests constitute protectible liberty interests, and therefore that procedural protection is due. We hold that such additional procedures in the form of a hearing are due, that they must, on application, be provided before notification and that they are constitutionally required.”
25 States followed suit by the use of risk assessment tools to differienate between dangerous and non-dangerous offenders. (Some with appeals) In most of these states, pictures and information of low risk sex offenders are NOT put on a public registry. (Not sure of percentages)
However, there are states that do not use risk assessments like here in New Mexico where everyone is lumped in with high-risk sex offenders. I am one who was put on probation and the registry for the rest of my life for five pictures of teenagers I had on my computer along with adult pornography.
I have often asked myself if the label “sex offender” should even be used for those other one-time, hands-off, non-dangerous, consensual offenses. (70% of SO registrants) My conclusion is that it should not, but only be used for those dangerous predators (5.3%) “

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Patricia Lyman Hancock. May 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Well, all I can say is I am the one the murder happened to, my 13 yr old and her 13 yr old girlfriend, by my bosses son. A man that I worked with and let him date my 16 yr old.. 7-8-1991 they were kidnapped by this ” normal teenager” then 19, now 38. raped, stabbed there eyes out, stomped on them till they crushed everything in their little bodies. yes they, there were 2 men. one 19, one 38, one is on death row, 1 walks out a free man, he will not have to list as a sex offender, nor have any restictions at all, NONE. free as a bird in 5 + weeks.. from buckeye prison in buckeye AZ . he will be as free as u and me.. although he skated on all the sex crimes because of a crooked county att. they have kept him in P.C. for 20 yrs….he walks out 7-2-11 he could be ur neighbor!!

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 7:00 am

Creators Syndicate Reader O’Really writes:

“Oh my God! Diane Diamond actually said something I agree with! Miracles never cease, do they?

Think about all the bills passed against “sex offenders” in recent years– residency restrictions, GPS, the registry, community notification, random compliance checks, civil commitment, extended sentencing, scarlet letter laws like putting “sex offender” in red letters on drivers licenses, and the like, coupled with the fact these requirements change on a whim, it is a wonder why recidivism rates are not higher. Don’t fool yourself into actually believing the laws have reduced sex crimes; studies have consistently shown these laws have no impact on recidivism.

Rehabilitation and reintegration of those who have completed their sentences is not sexy to society, but it is effective. The tough on crime stance has backfired. We now have more people on the registry than the population of cities like Boston, Baltimore, Denver, Las Vegas, or Miami. One in 99 people in the US are in prison, and 1 in 33 have a criminal record that leads to struggles with housing, employment, and social support, which in turn leads to more crime.”

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 7:02 am

Creators Syndicate Reader ChrisB writes:

“While I agree with much of what is in Ms. Dimond’s article above, there is a missing aspect to this piece. What about the individuals who are falsely accused of sexual abuse but after investigation and/or a trial are found innocent of this charge? An accuasation of this crime is associated with the individual for life. There is an individual in my community that was falsely accused of this crime about 5 years ago and after investigation by Child Protective Services was found to have done nothing inappropriate. Even today, when searching the internet for our high school wrestling team, this person’s name comes up and is associated with the media stories concerning the accuasations. How sad for this man, who worked with kids for years giving of his time and talent, to have this happen to him. Many times child sexual abuse is used in a tug of war between two parents fighting for child custody. The majority of cases investigated by child protective services, upwards of 80%, are unfounded.
As several people have already commented, this is exactly what happened in the case of Michael Jackson. Child protective services found no wrong doing on the part of Mr. Jackson, but a vindictive and nasty DA decided to ignore their report. The DA’s witch hunt ended in a trial that found Mr. Jackson innocent on all 14 counts against him. But, the media chose to ignore the clear evidence of extortion and greed but instead chose to report what they hoped would happen not the reality. The trial transcripts clearly show how grossly wrong the media’s coverage of this case was. Even now the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge their gross error. Diane Dimond was a leader in this disasterous coverage so writing a piece about child sexual abuse is quite disingenuous of her. Will the media ever learn?”

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 7:04 am

ChrisB,

Think what you will of the Michael Jackson legal perils and my coverage of them … But I must respectfully submit you are mixing apples and oranges.
This column was about the National Sex Registry and the vastly different types of “sex offenders” we force to register – some for life. ~ DD

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 7:06 am

ABQ Journal Reader Dorothy Gongora writes:

“Thank you for writing the article on change thinking on sexual abuse I hope it will change the way people think.”

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Darryl duPont May 16, 2011 at 8:23 am

I am worried that taking a lighter approach to sexual predators may be just as bad. Unfortunately ‘the media” does take into account the long term psychological damage to victims. I believe many suffer years after the crime from both the abuse and the legal system which often treats them as criminals essentially putting them on trial.
It should also be noted that the Debra Lafave case was unique. I covered that case for months, Lafave had deep psychological issues, long before that crime. I honestly believe that if she had committed another even violent crime she would have been acquited on a mental health defense but wasn’t because it was sexual abuse. Her victims and their parents also had an agenda for money, trying first to get it from her husband’s family– when that failed they went on to destroy her in the media. I am not saying she wasn’t guilty, I just think using her as an example may not be in the best interest.

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Dr. Kathryn Seifert May 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Great article. I agree with you and ATSA completely. Thanks for being courageous enough to write it.

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm

DD Web Site Reader Anonymous from Boston: (an attorney)

“Your piece on sex offenders illustrates the reason why you’re my favorite journalist in America currently writing on crime. It’s almost an act of courage on your part to write such a nuanced piece rather than look at things on a one-size-fits-all knee-jerk opinion.

As someone who deals with a lot of sex offenders and their families, I see how a lot of them (whether it’s a 17-year old who had sex with his 15-year old girlfriend or someone who exposed themselves 30 years ago) whose lives are ruined by the perpetual never-ending punishment. The sex offender registry can also hurt their families particularly their children because rocks can be thrown at their windows, they may be taunted and teased and may be hounded from home to home. My main argument is that the registry and these laws may actually endanger the public because, if you truly were a sex offender trying not to reoffend, this kind of treatment– being fired from jobs, forced to move, becoming a neighborhood pariah– might be so stressful that you might wind up acting out.

And it’s one of the great myths or urban legends that sex offenders are beyond repair, can’t be cured and will always reoffend. (Although, I totally agree with you that there are some offenders who should be locked up forever.)

However, I have long felt that trying to talk to the public about this is like touching the third rail. You can’t even have a discussion. This is just the kind of nuanced discussion that Nancy Grace is incapable of. If I tried to talk about it, she’d simply call them evil monsters and cut off (the topic).”

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm

FaceBook Friend John DeDakis writes:

“Really good piece. I couldn’t agree with you more.

One of my friends was busted for using the internet to entice a minor. I told him at the time that getting busted was the best thing that could have happened to him. He pleaded guilty, served 2 ½ years at Butner (the only federal pen with a sex offender therapy program). I stayed in touch with him during his incarceration and helped him through his re-entry to society after getting out eight years ago. We remain in contact.

He’s a different person now than he was back then. He takes full responsibility for his crime and is much more authentic in his dealings with people. He’s engaged to a great woman and has been a supportive father to his kids.

It’s been tough for him, but he’s doing well. In fact, my third novel will deal in part with some of what he’s had to endure, while at the same time acknowledging that there are some really bad apples out there.

So… you touched a chord with me. I’m going to forward your column to him.”

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Diane May 16, 2011 at 6:52 pm

DD Web Site reader EW Varsa writes:

“Thank you for the Op Ed piece on changing thinking on sexual abuse. I have read the entirety of the article from ATSA. It is a useful compendium of ideas researched over several years and published in numerous sources, as the extensive bibliography attests. We know the registry is a miserably failed and expensive enterprise which grows like topsy, ensnares more and ever more offenders and their families and does virtually nothing for prevention. How could it? It gobbles too many resources. The idea that it is ‘to protect the children’ is a cynical sham as well. It is, however a ‘jobs’ program ‘ for hundreds of marshals, parole officers, and sundry state employees whose job it is to keep the registry up to date.
Unfortunately, the willful ignorance of legislators is all too apparent in the numbers quoted for 2007 and 2008 for sex offender related issues in bills proposed and 275 enacted. Sex offender issues are great for the campaign stump speech..a no party related winner of an issue.
Most unfortunately, the human cost of being an offender or within an offender’s family is overlooked in the stampede for ‘justice’. The Adam Walsh act is but another example of ‘willful ignorance, and is actively promoted by Eric Holder who is arguably more interested in the ‘rights’ of non US citizens at Gitmo than the overlooked rights of hundreds of thousands of (mostly US ) citizens labeled sex offender.The US Supreme Court decision saying the registration is ‘civil’ and not punitive opened a huge Pandora’s box ..and they only heard half of the evidence from the DOJ to come to their decision.
The biggest job is to educate the public about sex offending and to prevent opportunistic politicians and media with no conscience whatsoever from promising yet another law ‘to be sure it doesn’t happen again’ as we saw with the California tragedies last year. Good luck on this. Unfortunately, intelligent discussion on this pervasive societal issue seems to be lacking within Congress ( did you hear the recent Adam Walsh hearings ) or within the country at large. And so, it will continue unabated and unprevented. To our universal shame.
Thank you again for the op ed piece.”

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Ralph Logan May 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Great article,one our States Legislators should take a hard look at.

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Diane May 17, 2011 at 7:19 am

ABQ Journal Reader Juelie writes:

“Make that a few who pose no danger. And, I beg to differ with your column in the ABQ Journal recently.

It is my understanding that it is very difficult to “cure” a pedophile. Most get back into acting out their perversions not long after they are released. That is why the authorities try to make sure they are not living next to a school . Fat lot of good that does.

These people are the scourge of mankind. They ruin the lives of children. People don’t get much lower than that.

As for the young lover boys who are maybe mistakenly called sex offenders for their lifetime records, this could be a lesson learned for many young men to be a bit more careful before they unzip. I usually agree with you Diane, but definitely not this time.”

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Diane May 17, 2011 at 7:24 am

Juelie,

I very clearly stated that the true pedophiles (the worst of the worst of the lot of molesters) should be locked up and have the key thrown away. So you and I agree on that.

But, I hardly think putting “the young lover boys” on a sex registry for life because they “unzipped” is fair. The registry haunts every aspect of a registrants life. Employment is terribly difficult to get, landlords don’t want to rent to someone on the registry, the shame and constant hounding the “lover boy” gets – sometimes for the rest of their lives – has caused some to commit suicide. All because they “unzipped” with a teenaged girlfriend?

I stand by the column – that we have to use that registry to follow the truly sick molesters out there. And the career pedophiles who prey on young children should be locked up somewhere for life. ~ DD

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Diane May 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Matt writes:

“A person must prove that he is not a threat. 25 states are using risk assessments to identify low risk offenders. Some of states are putting these men and women on “For police eyes only registry,” not on the public registry. Being on the registry is a life shattering experience and it should be a constitutional requirement that a defendant on trail for a sex crime be given a risk assessment, to determine his risk, before he is put on the registry or not. The 1995 New Jersey Supreme Court came to this same conclusion.

The question treated in this section is whether in the implementation of notification, procedural protections are required beyond those found in these laws in order to assure fairness and accuracy in carrying them out. Plaintiff contends that the Registration and Notification Laws implicate liberty interests in privacy and reputation. Specifically, he argues that dissemination of information under the Notification Law impinges on the interest in nondisclosure, and that classification under the Notification Law, with its attendant disclosure, not only identifies him as a sex offender but effectively brands him as potentially currently dangerous, thereby infringing his interest in reputation. We find that both interests constitute protectible liberty interests, and therefore that procedural protection is due. We hold that such additional procedures in the form of a hearing are due, that they must, on application, be provided before notification and that they are constitutionally required. See infra at 128-35, 662 A.2d at 432-35.

I am from New Mexico. This states does not use risk assessments to evaluate dangerousness. It lumps all offenders together, high and low risk, based on their offense. I am one of them who, because of 5 pictures, I was put on the registry for the rest of my life. The only way I can stand up for my rights is to sue New Mexico as John Doe(s) did in New Jersey to show that I am not a threat to society. I have had three risk assessments, two lie detector test and a host of other evidence that says that I am not a threat. Maybe you can help?

Please write an article about SO risk assessment tools. I believe that it is one way to reduce the size of the bloated registry. You will find that 70% of registrants are not dangerous.”

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Diane May 18, 2011 at 7:14 am

ABQ Journal Reader Dr. Bobby Sykes writes:

“Congratulations on your 5/14 article on sexual abuse. You presented some very valid points. I shared the article with two of my sex offender therapy groups and interesting discussions followed. My name is Bobby Sykes, Ph.D. and I provide sex offender therapy to federal probation and Bureau of Prisons sex offenders in the Albuquerque area. The issue of sexual abuse is extremely difficult to address because of public fears and massive mis-information. Sensationalism attracts audiences and rare, severe cases get the most press. The public is afraid of sex offenders because of the publicized dangers to children. Most offenders don’t re-offend but when is that information presented? It is simply not good public policy to appear ‘soft’ on sex offenders. There is another side to this coin: many in the treatment community may be too quick to minimize the dangers posed by some offenders. As a member of ATSA I can tell you that many therapists see law enforcement as an adversary, not an ally in dealing with sex offenders. I prefer a balanced approach. Each case is individual and must be dealt with accordingly. Perhaps someone should figure out how to write stories on the successful community reintegration accomplished by some ex-offenders. By the way, more than anything else, we need housing for ex-offenders. I brought this up to one of our former mayors and got nowhere fast. Thanks for your article. Dr. Sykes “

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Brian May 18, 2011 at 8:25 am

Thank you for exposing the truth behind all these broad-reaching laws that often target non-violent people, even children, and ostracize them for life.
Apparently, media and political corruption fuel these deceptive laws because so much money is brought in from them and careers are advanced. It is time for America and the world to know what the real story is and honest people like yourself are helping greatly to make a difference.
Megan’s Law was meant to center only on real predators, but since it’s inception, the list has grown and grown to include public urination,”sexting”, and Romeo/Juliet crimes. There are now approximately 1 million people listed in America! The original intent of Megan’s law needs to be restored.
Thank you again Diane for getting the truth out there. The media lies are just beginning to come out of the bag. It’s about time.

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Debra Hilgenberg June 11, 2011 at 12:04 am

Diane, thank you so much for writing this. I was so happy to see a reporter write something that “gets it”. Keep up the good work and God bless you from a member of an online group Friends and Families of Sex offenders.

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Diane June 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm

My pleasure. So many people forget to “walk a mile” in someone else’s shoes. I hope I never forget to do that. Thanks for taking time to write to me! ~DD

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verna s. June 11, 2011 at 6:52 am

I would like to thank you for doing this work. I am the mother of a first time offender. here is some background on him. He was raped when he was 5 years old but we never knew it because it was kept quiet. When he turned early 20’s he started touching our grandson. he became so upset with what he was doing (touching only) (doesn’t excuse what he did) He turned himself in to authorities to stop it. He went to prison where he got his ged (from a 6 grade education) at the top of all in Indiana that also took the test. 992 was his score. He has taken full responsibilty for what he did. He has obeyed all the registry laws. But he can’t get a job,home,or become the man we know he can be. Why? because we as a country are being misled by media, and they ones we put in office because they want to be re-elected. My son did the crime and served the time. He is the exception. I have to pay for his room and the mental therapy that he needs. the families do suffer alot and this is not fair. I would love to bring him home but not allowed because of daycares in the area. This should not be on the lists because they have rules on their bussiness to watch their charges at all times. My son will not re-offend again. He says he would kill himself first. He asked god for forgiveness and his family. We have given him a second chance but no third chance.
WE MUST GET OTHERS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WE ARE DOING DOES NOTHING TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN SINCE NEW CASES OUT THERE HAVE NEVER BEEN ON THE REGISTRY SO HOW DO WE KNOW WE ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING?????? AGAIN THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TRYING TO HELP.

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renate hall June 11, 2011 at 5:21 pm

thank you so much for seeing it for what it is, these laws are not protecting anyone. my son was 20, home on leave from the marines, he wasted time waiting for his friend, he ask some girls if they needed a ride. was he right doing this? certainly not! but now he is punished for the rest of his life. while he was charged, he was tested for 4 hours by a court apointed psychiatrist, conclusion, no criminal intend found, no sexuall motivation, just not thinking of consequences. later we found out, the girls mother was a court clerk, she has intimate relations with one of the prosecutors, according to our lawyer, no chance in hell my son had to have a fair hearing! and at the end our attorney said to us i have not defended your son adequatly. what are you going to do? no one is listening, poiticians making a name for them selfs laws are applied regardless, this country is throwing lives away and nobody cares. politicians are sending pictures of them selfs, cheating on their spouses, and those are the ones telling us how to live. it is such a shame, such a disgrace to a country who claims second chances are here and telling other countries how to live, and their own constitutions are disregarded, civil rights are violated, retroactive laws are applied, humiliation is the daily order. thanks for speaking up, and no, you arenot soft on offenders, you are a hero for speaking the truth!! thank you, wish ilvoices could meet you some time!

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angie June 11, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Thank you, thank you for being a person brave enough to speak up about the SO Registry. We are suffering as a family. Every day that goes by not knowing what “SO Law” will be enacted that week or month. This is a heinous way to live. Trust me when I say, “the family does the time with the accused”. Only when the female, who decides to punish the male for wanting to break off the relationship with “crying rape”, has to serve the same prison sentence and life punishment for lying will this stop. Consensual sex “IS NOT RAPE”
no force involved or violence. Please let our voices be heard. This is hell on earth. I agree that the truly sick person who preys on children need to be locked away for life. The others who are “LUMPED IN” is a travesty of Justice. It is easier for the “system” to just hand down a life time of punishment, because there is not the manpower to address each case on its own merit.
We in this country are creating a sub-culture of unemployable, homeless beings. The media is lying to the public on a daily basis.
Those on probation for this type of crime may have a traffic stop or unpaid tickets. They are arrested not for anything to do with another sex crime, but the media misleads the public in leaving out the facts. If every law maker in this country had to answer a question of having sexual contact in high school, half of this country would be behind bars and on the registry! God forgive us all, this is the Scarlet Letter of the 21st Century. Please hear us who need relief from these “feel good” laws that DO NOT WORK! What is to keep a true pedophile from living 2000.1 feet from a school from abducting a child? Can that person not walk or drive there?
The residency laws are a joke. Placate if you will the public. This is not working and ruining lives and families of the falsely accused.
Educating the public is a must regarding labeled “sex offenders”.
All are not equal, all are not violent and dangerous. And trust me, tomorrow this could happen to you!

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Diane June 12, 2011 at 10:53 am

DD Web Site Reader “Scared & Scarred For Life” writes:

“Your article on “Sex Offenders” was outstanding! Finally, someone with enough guts to speak up for
the other side. I applaud you whole heartedly, as a family we are suffering and living in a daily hell.

If I could physically help in the taking on of looking at each case individually, I would. So many lives are being ruined. They are all lumped into the violent and dangerous category. Someone needs to hear us.

Nothing happens to the girls who want revenge for the breakup, or lie about their age. They should be made to serve the same prison time, suffer the same humiliation of strip searches and body cavity searches. The fear of being “actually raped” and beaten in prison.

I can only pray that the good Lord hears and shows mercy on us. That this will turn around soon. I in no way condone the true predator or pedophile, the mentally sick who cannot be healed. To lump them all into one category is unjust. The stigma will always remain unfortunately.

I am the mother of a labeled sex offender. I am heart sick every waking hour. Sleep is my only relief. Life is not good right now. Just waiting for the other shoe to drop with yet another restriction or new law. Lunsford’s son was guilty of having sex with a minor, yet he skated, no prison time or registry. Nobody cared about that, how come?

We are a family of little means. The lawyer took us broke, was in bed with the state trooper. We didn’t have a chance. Our life savings is gone and we live on a fixed income. These are slam dunk cases for the lawyers, cash cows. The person is made to plea bargain, gets 5 years for each offense, probation and registry. Residency restriction, unemployable and no chance of a relationship. Life time punishment because the girl didn’t get her way. Mommy and Daddy had to save face in the community and my son was made to be a monster. The media didn’t print the truth, they left out many things. It was all in the
girls favor and her parents were well off financially.

I thank you again. I will keep praying for all who have been given this cross to bear. We need to be heard!”

Signed,
Scared and scarred for life.

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Deb Young June 14, 2011 at 10:18 am

After reading all the comments on here, all I can say is ditto. This was an excellent article and I pray that others will follow suit and show support for this issue. My young son (21 at the time of arrest) will be release in 2017 and his crime was that he had some underage pictures on his computer. He did not touch anyone and never would have. He was an outstanding citizen and responsible young adult. He will not have a future if the laws will not change and he has to register as a sex offender. It would serve no purpose, except to cost taxpayers unnecessarily. The attention should be on those that actually had contact with a child or really on the worst offenders.
Thank you for putting your voice to this issue.
Signed,
Fearful of the Future

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Gene Goodman June 17, 2011 at 10:33 am

Thank you fro your insightful effort.
My son committed a sexual offense against a minor several months after he turned 18. The nature of the offense, no to minimize it, was inappropriate touching in a public place. He suffers from Asberger’s Syndrome, which affects his impulse control and other aspects of personal behavior. After spending nearly three years in NJ’s ADTC, he was civilly committed. He may spend the rest of his life there. I truly believe that if the state wishes top prevent this young man from ever seeing the light of day again fro this offense, then they should have the guts to push for execution. My son knows that he does NOT deserve a life sentence for his crime. He is truly remorseful and is striving for an “offense-free” life. He freely acknowledges the true extent of his crimes and his need for a lifetime of treatment. Civil commitment for offenders whose crime does not include violent, as the public views it, behavior is, itself, a travesty and a violation of human rights. Even conservative Supreme Court Justice, Thomas compares civil commitment to the use of psychiatric hospital confinement by the Soviet Union.
I wish someone could help my poor son. All he wants is to undergo treatment and live the moral life that, even his treaters say he can.
Is this really America?

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diane July 28, 2011 at 10:26 am

it has been two days since my son (22 years) has been convicted of sexual assault. How easy it is for the public to view him as a predetor. As a monster. This is far from the case. He was 21 and he found out after the fact that she was 15. Had my son known the truth of her age, he would not have had any relations with this girl. Unfortunately, the truth will not set you free, it will send you to jail and have you listed on the Sexual Offender Registry for 20 years. Really, this is justice.?

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