Sunday, October 14, 2007

Signs of The Times - Sad But True


Trick or Treaters should beware in Baltimore, or at least heed some signage.

Sex offenders now must put warning labels on their homes on Halloween, which say: "No Candy At This Residence".
For the second straight year, parole and probation agents plan to team with local police to dissuade sex offenders who are not allowed to have contact with children from participating in the holiday.

"We actually print out the signs for the offenders and hand them to them," said Elizabeth Bartholomew, a spokeswoman for the Division of Parole and Probation. "We expect them to post the signs."

In addition to the signs, all such offenders have been advised in a letter to stay home from 6 p.m. on Halloween until the next morning, leave their lights off and refuse to answer their doors.

Several states, including Delaware, New Jersey, Illinois, Virginia and Texas, ban registered sex offenders from handing out candy on Halloween, going to kids' parties, or being on the streets.
I'm not sure I know what to think about this sort of thing - it does seem kind of "Scarlett Letter-ish". We have had a whole "to do" about a serial rapist who just was released from jail in CT and is going to live in Southbury with his family. It's a really interesting issue - I mean these people have done time and are supposed to be rehabilitated and be able to integrate into our communities - and yet - we all recognize that these convicted criminals have an illness or weakness that cannot be easily dealt with, and there also is the possibility of recidivism. Maybe the best solution is to send them all packing to live in a retirement community in Florida somewhere - or otherwise isolate them like lepers once were. Who knows? Is there really a solution for people who commit such heinous crimes? Can they ever really live peacefully within our communities? What if criminals out on parole, or who have served their time, had to wear some sort of identifying bracelet forever. Or what would people say if drunk drivers had to forever post a sign on their car bumper warning people of their past crime and illness? How would that be any different? Obviously it's a loss of privacy. Perhaps that's just another consequence of their crime that they have to deal with. Another issue may very well be - why aren't we giving more thought to the victims of these crimes?

On the other hand, I also think that people do have the right to know about convicted sex offenders living in their community. The CT registry is here and other states have their registries available as well.

So, what do you think?

6 comments:

Dawn said...

//I mean these people have done time and are supposed to be rehabilitated and be able to integrate into our communities - and yet - we all recognize that these convicted criminals have an illness or weakness that cannot be easily dealt with,//

Or what we recognize is that we (I'm in Canada and think it's much the same here) haven't got a prison system that does it's job in terms of rehabilitation. So instead they're released and the energy that should have been invested into rehabilitation is pushed into cute programs like signs on doors that do little to address any problem.

And we accept it as if putting up little signs is somehow doing something.

mrs dani said...

personally, i think if you molest a child, you should spend the rest of your life in jail. period. the harm you did to that child will never go away so neither should your punishment.
if you rape and/or kill a child... death penalty! within 5 years.

harsh? what about what these kids deal with. i have worked with them. the pain (physical, emotional and spiritual) and shame NEVER EVER go away.

Jennifer said...

If child rapists get the death penalty, that will give the rapist incentive to murder his victim so there will be no witness. And if he's caught for murder, he won't face any penalty harsher than what he would've faced for the rape anyway. The law of unintended consequences would be quite harsh indeed.

Also, are we talking actual sex offenders (i.e., those who commit forcible rape), or are we also talking about people like a 17-year-old high school senior put on the list for having consensual sex with his freshman girlfriend? In some states, even things like public urination will get you put on the list.

I don't think lawmakers understand that "The Scarlet Letter" was not supposed to be emulated.

MikeT said...

I have no problem with giving a people life in prison for molesting children (prepubescents) but it gets tricky once they hit puberty. I knew girls in high school that at 14 actively sought out older men to have sex with because they thought they would make better, more experienced partners. Quite frankly, if their older male partner is going to go to prison, then so should those girls because they actively solicited a felony crime. Don't give me that "well he is old enough to control himself" excuse for her behavior because high school age girls are old enough to understand and obey moral restrictions on their sex drives. It doesn't matter that they may not appreciate the full ramifications of what they did, they were old enough to simply obey the commands to not have sex like an adult could.

I can't help but wonder if part of the recidivism isn't due to the fact that these people are like modern lepers. They often cannot seek counseling and even something as simple as an "accountability partner" at church because their sin is far worse in the eyes of society at large than even murder. Society should do the right thing which is to put the ones who are pathological predators away for life, not make lepers out of them. If we, as a society, cannot do that, then we share in the blame for the next rape committed by such a predator.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I do think we have a right to know when real sexual predators are released into our neighborhoods. But the sex offender notifications laws don't always differentiate between predators and others.

For example, earlier this year some kids were charged with sexual harrassment for running down the hall of their middle school and slapping butts. I don't know if they were convicted or not, but in some states sexual harrassment is considered a sex offense and registration is thus required. These kids are practical jokers with a bit of testosterone running amuck in their bodies, but predators they are not.

So, if we are going to require registration and notification and the scarlet "S," I think states should do a better job defining predators and differentiating them from others. The evidence is that pediophilia and predation cannot be treated successfully. But things like public drunkenness (which might lead to public urination and thus get a person labeled as a sex offender) can be treated.

Jennifer said...

I knew girls in high school that at 14 actively sought out older men to have sex with because they thought they would make better, more experienced partners. Quite frankly, if their older male partner is going to go to prison, then so should those girls because they actively solicited a felony crime.

I agree. But even better would be to end this puritanical idea, enshrined in law, that when nature tells you you're ready for sex, you still have to wait several years before you're allowed to legally scratch that itch.