Monday, November 18, 2013

Follow the Constitution on Releasing Sex Offenders

I'm sick of politicians treating the sex offender situation as a way to score political points. Pioneer Press columnist Rubén Rosario put it this way on Sunday:

As a survivor of childhood sex abuse, I can say that I detest these types of criminals and offenders. I know what these predators rob from their victims. But another thing I detest is political grandstanding.
We're talking about people who were convicted, served their sentences, and now have been in "civil commitment" inside a razor-wired mental hospital for 20 years. They've completed evidence-based treatment and been assessed, with the best tools available, as being able to rejoin society. And they would only be "released" to halfway houses with very close monitoring, including electronic ankle bracelets.

It seemed at first as though there might be some progress in releasing some of them, but then it hit the news and the exurban town where the halfway house is located went berserk. If it had been North Minneapolis, no one would have cared what the neighbors thought.

As I've said earlier, we have to get over blaming the governor or department head who OKed a release if something goes wrong. Things will go wrong because these are human beings. But people have rights, too.

Now it looks like it will take a federal judge's ruling to remind Minnesota that we live under a Constitution in this country. That means someone outside Minnesota will get to decide for us what happens with our tax dollars, as pointed out on MPR's Daily Circuit program last week. I'm ashamed of my state.

As Rosario concluded in his column,
I don't blame any victim of these folks for wanting to keep them in confinement. But if raw emotions dictated laws, there would be bodies lying on the street and chaos.
There is no perfect justice, as Steven Pinker points out. We can't be perfectly safe in a world that has free people in it. Get over it, realize the risks are minimal, and stop watching Law and Order SVU.


Barbara said...

"stop watching Law and Order SVU."

Possibly the wisest of all the wise things that you have written.

Yes, there are dangers in the world. But when a TV show gives you a new horrific crime every week, your view of the risks of daily life gets a bit skewed.

Gina said...

Back in 2005 or 2006, a small movie came out starring Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick entitled "The Woodsman." It caused an incredible stir when it first was released because the main character is a sex offender being released and it's told from his POV. No one wanted to see that sex offenders are human beings, and there are some who struggle with their guilt, the aftermath of their crimes affecting their own families as well as the victims'. Kevin Bacon gives an extraordinary performance. This movie shows how no one truly believed that he had overcome his "sickness." It is a "one day at a time" kind of thing for these offenders, and if they have the support they need from society, the community, and their families, they can reform and lead productive lives.

Should we keep an eye on them? Well, should we keep an eye on any stranger who shows unusual interest in our children? We live in a dangerous world of our own creation. It's up to us to either change it or make it safer, especially for children, but with compassion.