Reader Feedback "The Sex Offender Dilemma"

Due to a flood of letters on the topic, this is only a selection of reader emails handpicked by our WWNK editors. Some of the letters have been edited for length.

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Granted, there is a world of difference, (regardless of the absence of clear and compelling distinctions according to the law) between a hardcore predatory repeat pedophile on the one extreme, and the 18-year-old boy who has consensual sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend whom he might eventually marry.

In the eyes of the law, both are sex offenders. Morally and practically these two extremes represent markedly different scenarios (unless, perhaps, you happen to be the father of the 16-year-old girlfriend), even if the law fails to take this into account. I think the distinction, and perhaps other tiers of distinctions depending on the circumstances of the case, is important.

Assuming the former case, I see something of a moral conundrum, as many a pedophile has no more ability to exercise free will in the matter of sexual proclivity than anybody else would have in altering their sexual orientation. Certainly, they can be held accountable for criminality of their behavior, and they should be if their behavior encroaches on the rights and welfare of others, regardless of their crime. I feel less certain that they should be held equally accountable for their inclinations, which is to say we should punish the behavior and not the tendency. The GPS approach offers deterrence, but only as long as the consequences trump the sexual drive. I think the most humane response, excepting in the case of truly heinous behavior, is to remove all temptation. One possibility might be exile to a 'controlled community' on an island, where offenders could live out their lives, perhaps even as otherwise productive citizens, but without any opportunity for sexual predation on the public at large.

(John L.)

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Back in the early ‘90s, I worked with the FBI tracking and setting up stings for pedophiles. Although the operation was classified and I can say little about it, I ventured across more than one SOB so perverted that his needs would raise the hair on your neck. Did you know that there are actually Satanic cults that designate breeder mothers to bear children for sacrifice? The child is delivered by a midwife of the cult, so there are never any records. Most terrifying, these are usually the neighbors next door.

I did some volunteer work with teenage kids from a rural county who went to "Wiccan" gatherings where entire families, ranging, literally, from infants to grandmothers, were trotted out for sex. One fourteen-year-old told me about the "break-away" pants someone made him because it was too much trouble to keep dressing and undressing as he moved from tent to tent around the bonfire. The orgy for all ages would last the weekend.

Unsurprisingly, none of the kids I tried to help turned out worth a damn; the kid with the pants was an all-night clerk at an adult bookstore, the last I heard. And several of these kids were talented and intellectual. The "darker" side of pedophilia, if you can call it that, is the number of kids that are taught to enjoy what is being done to them and see no wrong in it, even as adults. No one wants to talk about this part of the problem; it is too terrible and too unbelievable.

When you hurt a child in this way, you steal a life just as surely as if you had murdered them. Why do we spend so much money being "humane" to the predators? They cannot be reformed. Does anyone know a single one of them that turned his life around and did something worthwhile? I'll bet you dollars to donuts you cannot even find one who claims to be happy with himself. No, the only answer for a wolf amidst the lambs is a bullet; that's as merciful as I'll ever care to be. And that recent piece of filth that buried the little girl alive after he kidnapped, raped and tortured her? I suggest an open field, five gallons of gasoline and a Zippo lighter. Feel free to use your imagination.

(Jeffrey R.)

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The solution is quite simple. They should not be jailed, nor castrated, and definitely not executed--which is an even worse barbarity than the crime. They should be stripped of their citizenship and expelled from the United States.

(John S.)

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Thank you for a good review of a troubling area in American justice. You did a particularly nice job of pointing out how little current traditional mental health care has to offer to prevent recurrence of crimes by sexual offenders. (Unless one makes the stretch that castration is a psychiatric 'treatment.') It is a travesty that many public mental health systems, already struggling to make ends meet for the seriously mentally ill, are being saddled with the expense and liability for 'treating' sexually violent predators. These individuals should be more appropriately dealt with in the judicial system through sentencing and monitoring consistent with the nature of their behavior.

(Steve M.)

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I like what God says in the Holy Bible: The penalty for sex offenders, i.e. adulterers, which refers to any kind of sex offence against another person, is stoning to death. This is God's commandment, and it has a guaranteed chilling effect on any potential offender, as well as a zero percent recidivism rate. And, of course, it is to be carried out immediately, before the sun sets on the day of conviction; no "death row."

(Wendell W.)

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My ex-husband served eight years for his incestuous relationship with our children. He's been out of prison for several years and is now off parole. He is in the process of moving to another town, where he will register as a sex offender--which he has always "cooperated" with. However, what is not required by the state of Utah is the knowledge that his new job is as an OTR truck driver; no telling where he will go or how long he will be in other areas where no one will be able to identify him as an offender!

My concern is that this presents quite an opportunity for an offender who is looking to repeat their acts. Just because my own children are safe from him doesn't mean others are not at risk, and there is nothing in Utah law that prevents a convicted abuser from getting work that will take him, undetected, anywhere he wants to go. He is "legal" because he is registered by a permanent address, regardless of how often he is actually there. Someone needs to address that.

(Loryjean P.)

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I think that if sex offenders were castrated (non-chemical) there would be a lot less repeat offenses. I think if a child is involved, and/or a murder, physical castration on the first offense (which statistically is not at all the first offense, just the first one for which they have been successfully caught and prosecuted.)

I think heavy jail time for a "first offense" where a child or murder is not involved. Castration for any "second" offense. I also don't think that when a prison term is up for a sex offender, they should be able to live anywhere they please and continue to molest/rape.

A policeman once told me that they estimate that a child molester will molest an average of 250 children before they die. About two thirds of this total is after being let back out of prison. Since it is estimated that only about 1/3 of all molesters/rapists are ever caught to begin with, the statistics are very sad and something serious needs to be done. Perhaps the fact that men run our government may have something to do with the hand-slap system that has been in place thus far.

(Robyn C.)

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When you identify some problem in society, be it sex offenders or anything else, and then call for the state to solve it with harsh penalties/more laws/regulations, etc., you can be guaranteed that the problem will get worse, not better, and that whatever the state does will cause other problems orders of magnitude worse than the original problem. 

Furthermore, calling for mandatory sentences for some class of crime and not allowing the judge to use his own judgment in sentencing, has two major flaws. First, the person on the ground next to the situation can see it more clearly than bureaucrat in an ivory tower. Sure, judges may have flawed judgment, but bureaucrats in ivory towers are worse. It's better to keep sentencing decisions decentralized.

Secondly, crimes of a certain class vary widely in actual situation.  Many sex offender crimes are victimless. I read about one man who was drunk and stopped his car to pee by the side of the road. For that he received many years in prison, and lives the rest of his life branded as a sex offender, because public urination is considered a sex offense.

Also included in the sex offender class of crimes are looking at or possessing prohibited pornography, and consensual sex with anyone who is even one day under 18 years old. Also, much pornography is not distinguishable as child pornography. A photo of a nude 17-year-old may not be distinguishable from a photo of a nude 18-year-old, but possessing the former, regardless of whether you know anything about the model, will land you in prison and label you as a sex offender for life. 

You people who say that a 2nd offence should be a death sentence are saying that the 2nd time somebody gets caught with a photo of a nude 17-year-old, or takes a leak by the side of the road, that should be capital punishment.

To say nothing of the fact that many people have been taken off death row, or out of prison, because DNA evidence proved their innocence of a murder after a jury found them guilty. You might try browsing the case profiles of the innocence project, before you advocate a death penalty for anything: http://www.innocenceproject.org/case/display_cases.php?sort=year_exoneration

(Vincent)

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I believe that sex offenders ... are not "wired correctly" and ultimately are not in control of themselves. They cannot bring themselves to "just say no"; at least not consistently. They are not social creatures.  Consequently, separation from the rest of society seems to be the best solution. [...] Perhaps we could take a lesson from the movies and banish them to a walled location (in NY or Calif., ala Snake Pliskin) or to some foreign country and let them fend for themselves?

(Norm S.)

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Why not execute everyone convicted of a crime? Think of all the money Society would save! No more repeaters, no more jails, fewer lawyers! Lynch 'em all!

Seriously, your treatment of the subject is too one-sided. You are showing your riot-inciting bias. Don't bother us with any more such drivel. If you persist, we will consign everything else you write to the trash heap.

The last time I looked, the law in this country was inclined to give a released convict another chance. There is no reason to depart from that approach. For those who are incorrigible, treat them as mental cases.

(Kenneth H.)

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The problem is a classic one of too much "data" ending up yielding no "information". Megan was a child and the law that started to protect children, based on the studies that showed pedophiles were likely to offend again, got politics involved with NOW and similar organizations broadening the law for pedophiles to all sex offenders. (Read "men", since few would be let out as quickly at what's-her-name, the teacher who just married her victim after getting out of a short sentence. She was released before, only to be put back after a second offense. A male teacher would still be in jail.)

If you go into the registry here in Virginia, you will see these vague "sexual battery" listings. Are these pedophiles? Brutal violent rapists? He said, she said cases? Or those ridiculous cases such as the woman who said, in the middle of intercourse, "I should go home" and that was construed as "no" and the man was convicted of rape; or the 16-year-old boy who got his 15-year-old girlfriend pregnant and although he married her as the families wished, a "feminist" DA got him convicted of rape and registered! How well is he going to do in working to support his new family with that to put on his resume.

What is needed is to go back to putting the pedophiles and a select number of truly "violent" rapists on the list so that real information can be obtained when you call up the list. A 1000 names is data, not information.

(Dennis D.)

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First, we should never punish people in advance for crimes we presume they are going to commit after their release. If we are too cowardly to give them a fair chance to go straight, then we shouldn't release them at all. Your article documents why "Megan's Law" is such a terrible legal abomination. Who could live with a neon bull's eye, painted onto them by the government, which practically invites everyone to hate them, and every thug to assault them? Is it any wonder that compliance rates are dropping? Wouldn't you change your address too, without reporting to authorities, if they kept pinning a scarlet letter like that on you?

Remember that if the recidivism rate is 42%, then 58% are going straight after release, and a fair number of these people may actually have been innocent of the original crime for which they were convicted. Or their crimes may have been minor or resulting from a single incident of confusion and high spirits rather than from hard-core criminal intent.

As for GPS tracking, that idea is absolutely the totalitarian dream. And if it works for "sex offenders", then it will certainly make wonderfully good sense to plant those chips in the rest of us as well. After all, any of us might commit a crime, and a log that shows the authorities exactly where we were at every point in time would make enforcement of the law ever so much easier. It would even eliminate missing person cases. Is this what we really want?

(Rory L.)

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To spend time trying to figure out what to do with the offenders is a lot like shutting the barn door after the horse gets out.

Are you afraid to address the cause? 

What makes our young boys turn into men that hunt children?

Point fingers at the media (all types) and I'm called a censor and religious fanatic.

What faith values do these criminals have? Oh, that's what I thought.

Why don't they have any?

The downward spiral of liberal morals can only produce more of these scum, and I shudder to think of what can be worse, because it is surely just around the corner.

(Keith S.)

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We make things so complicated. I say, if you mess with a child you forfeit your right to be on the planet, period, end of story. If you mess with a child we, the state, will kill you.

(Blane T.)

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Posted 06-07-2005 3:24 PM by Doug Casey

Comments

What We Now Know wrote READER FEEDBACK: "THE SEX OFFENDER DILEMMA" 06/07/2005
on 01-10-2008 3:28 PM

As we noted in our article last week, no crime stirs up more emotion than sex offenses, especially child