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Are laws fair to registered sex offenders?

http://letterstotheeditorblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2012/04/are-laws-fair-t.html

By Dallasnews.com/letters

1:03 PM on Thu., Apr. 5, 2012

Sex offender laws broken

Re: “Sex offender sues city over policies — Family says restrictions forced it to stay for 2 years in motel room,” Saturday news story.

States have sponsored studies that conclusively show residency restriction laws are ineffective, except for the harm they cause. The citizen quoted in the story, Keith Long, seems not to understand that a loving father will fight to protect his children from the effects of unjust, capricious laws regardless of what he may have done in the past. That’s what good fathers do. I’ll bet Long would do the same.

Most men on the sex offense registry treasure all the anonymity they can keep. That’s why the courage of the Duarte family is so impressive. They are willing to stand up for themselves and thousands of other families to tell us that just because we label a person “sex offender” doesn’t make it right to gratuitously mistreat him and his children.

Philip Taylor, Dallas/Lake Highlands

Offenders have rights

A man required to register as a sex offender is suing the city of Lewisville over an unconstitutional residency restriction, which violates due process, equal protection under the law, ex post facto, and double jeopardy. Hopefully, this case will educate many Texans regarding the sex offender issue.

This particular registrant was convicted of soliciting a minor online. Most people think that means that he tried to lure a small child for sex. Unlikely.

In fact, most on the state registry (now almost 70,000 and growing more than 100 each week) never touched a little kid or forced anyone. In a June 2010 Texas senate hearing, Sen. Keith Whitmire asked the DPS representative how many registrants are actually dangerous. After calling his office for the answer, he stated a figure representing less than 13 percent. Consequently, limited resources are spent policing, monitoring, and harassing those who pose no risk, while the truly dangerous few hide in the crowd.

If the constitution still means something in Texas, Lewisville will lose this case. Furthermore, if Texans are paying attention, they will demand that the laws change to focus on the real dangers to children.

Sherry Robinson, Woodway, Texas
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SOSEN Comment
Well said Sherry. Every year the restrictions placed on former offenders increase. The public feels safer but in reality they are not. Since an estimated 97 to 99% of all new sex crimes are commited by people not on the registry, the public is left with a false sence of security. 

Incident at Miramonte Elementary School

LOS ANGELES — Recent news from Miramonte Elementary School where teacher Mark Berndt is accused of various sex crimes against the children in his classroom has rocked the country yet again. And now there is news of a second teacher in that same school, Martin Springer, is being accused of sex crime with children from his class. This on the heels of the Jerry Sandusky case has many people asking, what is the solution?

The sad fact is that the system let these children and their parents down. While billions of dollars per year are spent tracking former sex offenders, a group who comprise the lowest recidivism rate among all former offenders, no money was spent to protect these innocent victims.

The question is, did the sex offender registry and it myriad of costly laws protect these children? No it did not. Mark Berndt, Jerry Sandusky and Martin Springer are not registered sex offenders.

The parents of all those children were persuaded to look to the registry to protect their children. But the facts show again and again that the registry is a distraction, not a protection. By focusing on the small number listed on the registry they took their focus off the men in the class room, the men in authority that they were supposed to trust.

Could this tragedy have been avoided? Perhaps. If some of the money being spent on the registry was directed back to schools, and cameras were placed in every class room and locker-room so that teachers could be monitored, both for their protection and for that of the children, these tragedies could well have been avoided. The problem is that no one is trying to stop sex offences; they are more concerned with former offenders and continued punishment than they are with stopping sex crimes before they happen.

Another option would be to direct funds from the sex offender registry to schools so that there would be two teachers in every classroom. This would serve a dual purpose. Children would receive a better education and both children and teachers would be safer in the class room.

With the economy the way it is, federal, state and local governments must use their resources wisely. True, being tough on sex offenders does make for a re-electable candidate, but does it protect children? It would seem it does not. In the U.S. 93% of all new sex offenses are committed by people like Mark Berndt, Jerry Sandusky and Martin Springer, people who are not on the registry.

A better approach would be to focus on solving the problems of sexual offending rather than looking backwards and tracking people after the crime is committed and their time is served. Until the public stands up and says “enough is enough” We can expect to see more horrifying crimes being committed against children.

While there will never be a foolproof solution to sex offending, there are far better options than spending billions on a registry that is merely a distraction to parents and a reelection tool for legislators.

It’s time to bring the money home! It’s time to protect children.

by Randy E. SOSEN COO