300 | Chicago Reader

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Re: “The misunderstood sex offender

I am a federal parole officer who has been supervising sex offenders for approximately 8 years. This article completely misses the mark and is so blatantly indicative of the poor journalism that plagues our society today. It offers nothing in terms of a potential solution to the suggested problem it intends to expose; that current sex offender registration laws are too restrictive and mutually exclusive. As is so often the case, this article is quite misleading and, as is evidenced in many reader comments, perpetuates the misinformation and false conclusions that typify society's perception of the sex offender and the criminal justice system as a whole. State sex offender registration laws DO NOT set standards of legal obligation within the context of an offender's parole or supervised release. Illinois sex offender registration laws do not prohibit an offender from contact with a minor; etc. Offenders on local, state or federal supervision experience diminished expectations of privacy and restricted rights then those at liberty otherwise expect and enjoy. The courts, department of corrections, parole boards, etc are the usual governing entity that impose certain restrictions that are normally tailored to an offender's individual offense and overall characteristics and history which may include prior offenses and behaviors. For instance, my agency does not generally recommend a blanket prohibition of contact with a minor on a sex offender that has an adult victim. Nevertheless, if an offender has victimized a minor (child porn cases included), we recommend and generally receive a no contact order with minors (often including the offender's children/relatives). There is no blanket computer restriction on paroled sex offenders. Most of our adult victim offenders enjoy unfettered computer access. Some of our child victim offenders are authorized computer access that is monitored. The whole basis of supervision is to attempt to reintegrate the offender slowly back to society and restore their civil rights within a healthy and formidable context so that these negative, destructive behaviors are addressed and hopefully resolved. At the very least, we endeavor to teach these individuals the skills needed to manage their impulses in a healthy way. For some, this task is impossible. The story of Kevin in this article suggests a very pessimistic prognosis due to what appears to be a neurological disorder that greatly influences his actions. Still, this tragic prognosis should offer nothing in terms of flexibility in monitoring the individual because of his demonstrated risk to the community. "William" is a different story as his victim is an adult. Again, his victim was known to him...not a stranger. The article attempts to suggest that the laws do not address the notion of "stranger danger" out of which they were born; therefore, they are an ineffective means of control and suggest a false sense of safety among community residents. This theory is inherently flawed. A person's crime often tells alot about the individual that the layperson often overlooks. Many sex crimes are not simply a product of the offender's inability to manage sexual impulses, deviant or not. The sex offender presents with a complicated range of emotional issues that manifest themselves in the acts which they perpetrate against the victim. Both offenders' stories in this article support this fact. Sex offenses do not merely manifest themselves in an overt sexual perversion. Sexual perversion is, in some cases, an arbitrary label. Statistics quantifying human behavior are ridiculous and should not even be considered when developing laws or arguments on the topic. Statistical studies postulating theories of recidivism are blatantly flawed and misleading. Just because a person does not get caught committing another crime does not suggest any correlation of the danger they represent to the community, whether the community is defined as a stranger or relative. This idea is perhaps most fundamentally rooted in the fact that the vast majority of sexual abuse goes undetected and unpunished. On a final note, what I find most amusing about this article, and in my profession, most telling, is William's subtle indignance about his situation and how he was treated by the law. His final quotations suggest a feeling that he should not be lumped into the category of sex offender because his situation is different. He suggests that sex offenders should be categorized. What he does, in effect, is project blame onto the system and portrays himself as some kind of victim. Grant it, he does accept some measure of responsibility for his actions. Nevertheless, he minimizes his actions with his comments and beliefs and reduces the horrendous nature of the acts he committed by suggesting that despite what he did, he does not deserve the treatment he has received for the crime he committed. This speaks volumes about William's progress, or lack thereof. Seems like he has a way to go in his recovery. Hence the appropriateness of the current sex offender registration laws.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by 300 on 12/17/2011 at 2:19 PM

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