Sunday, December 04, 2005

Forgive and forget?

There are 83 registered convicted sex offenders living within a 5-mile radius of my house. Their crimes range from aggravated sexual battery, to rape, to indecent liberties with a child.

I know this because a group called Family Watchdog have made it their mission to establish an easily accessed database of these individuals in towns all over the United States.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. At least Family Watchdog is a free service; there are others that charge a fee for access, turning a profit from this miserable trade.

My kids are grown now, but learning that there are 5 registered sex offenders living within 1/4 mile of the elementary school they walked to each day causes a moment's disquiet, to say the least. Had I known this when they were still in school, would I have done anything differently? Cautioned them? And, how specific would I have been? Shown them the photos of these individuals, so they'd know who to look out for?

The dilemma of just where to draw the line - between protecting children and scaring the be-jeezus out of them - is one every parent must face. Do our children deserve to be terrorized in the name of protection?

And then there is also the question of the right to privacy of people who have served their sentence for the crime for which they were convicted. Do they deserve to have their names, addresses and photos published on the web so that their shame can be held against them forever?

I'm aware that there is a very high rate of re-offense in sex-related crimes - especially those perpetrated against children. But somehow, this website just turns my stomach.

I welcome comments/views/insights on this issue. I just don't know. . . .


Blogger Bela said...

The problem with sex offenders is that they can never be cured/rehabilitated. I believe there is now a consensus on that point. They will re-offend given the right circumstances (for them). So whether they've served their sentence is irrelevant. They are a very special kind of criminals.

On the other hand, it can lead to vigilante behaviour on the part of some 'concerned citizens'. Like when illiterate morons attacked and killed a pediatrician a few years ago in the North of England.

Like you, I don't know what a happy medium might be.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Trina said...

Considering my own past, I have WAY too much to say on this subject to try to go into it too much here. Megan's Law (and the resulting statutes and policies) *is* unconstitutional, but I don't consider the Constitution infallible. It doesn't (and couldn't - no document could) account for all the intricacies of human behavior and psyche.

3:39 PM  
Blogger katiedid said...

Honestly, I've never looked at sites like those. I feel better about trying to incorporate cautious behavior into my own life and practices more that I do just worrying about the people marked out on a list. Because that only lists repeat offenders - but they all had to have a first offense, and you can't find the predators who've yet to be prosecuted on any website or map. And I don't want to risk letting my guard down and not be aware of that fact. I'm not like paranoid about it all, I just like to be aware of what's going on around and near me. I try to communicate the same thing with my kids, and teach them the same.

5:52 PM  
Blogger still life said...

First of all I want to say hello and thank you for listing my blog as a place to visit.
I know that this response is late, but maybe you will still receive my comment. Geraldo just had a show on this morning regarding this very same topic... the same day I happened by!
see here
apparently the state of Iowa following the lead of other states has taken things into their own hands as far as monitoring the whereabouts and living options for offenders.
Truthfully if I have an opinion, my concerns will always go to the children first and foremost. I do believe that there needs to be a balance as far as making children aware of potential harm without stripping them of trust.

1:41 PM  

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