Sunday, January 25, 2009

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WI - Editorial: Sex offender ordinan - Study all angles of sex offender ordinance

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01/25/2009

Few topics can fray our nerves like how we treat — or ought to treat — sex offenders.

That was evident during an emotional meeting at Manitowoc City Hall Wednesday night. Many in attendance called for a city ordinance restricting where those convicted of serious sex crimes would be allowed to live upon release from prison. In Wisconsin, 72 municipalities have enacted such restrictions.

We're not ready to say that Manitowoc should join them, because we think the proposal needs a great deal more study and public debate.

We must, however, get beyond the purely emotional in this discussion, just as we must avoid a solely analytical approach.

One man at the hearing labeled sex offenders as "animals" who are "not wired right." Another called for them to "be put in a coop out in Lake Michigan somewhere."

This gets us nowhere. Dehumanizing sex criminals is as pointless as labeling them all victims of their upbringing or environment. No label fits all situations when dealing with complex — and individual — human beings.

That's why it's so difficult to legislate and make rules that will make everyone happy.
- You can make some people happy, some of the time, but you cannot make All people happy all of the time!

We understand the emotional reaction of those living in neighborhoods where sexual predators do things that are an abomination to 99.9 percent of the populace. We can particularly understand it if the despicable acts involve children.

Proponents say residency restrictions will keep sex offenders out of areas frequented by children, or at least alert neighborhoods about their presence.

Opponents say sex offenders likely would stop registering with the state — as required by law — if they were restricted from living in certain areas.

Melissa Roberts, a Manitowoc native and director of sex offender programs with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections in Madison, also says residency restrictions are "based on a faulty premise … that sex offenders access their victims geographically."

There often is little middle ground in this debate. Those with a personal stake in the matter don't often see eye-to-eye with those who analyze the problem from afar.

That's unfortunate, but likely unavoidable.

Before the city jumps in to draft an ordinance, however, there needs to be much more input from parents, teachers, judges, lawyers, sexual assault experts and others.

Knowledge from a number of sources is the best starting point in any proposed legislation, but becomes even more important when the lives of so many — victims and offenders alike — are affected.

Let's do it right, and do it slow, if we're going to do it at all.


CA - Creepy Playground Donation

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01/25/2009

When is the gift of playground equipment disgustingly creepy? When the former actor who made the donation was busted for allegedly pleasuring himself at the exact same park a few years prior.

Justin F. Lazard -- who appeared in hit movies like "Species 2" and "The Giving Tree" -- gifted $28,000 in equipment to Library Park in Lakeport, CA, which had its ribbon cutting ceremony last week.

Problem is, Lazard is the same guy who was tasered by cops in a 2006 incident, in which he was allegedly sitting on a railing at Library Park pleasuring himself with his genitals exposed.

According to the Lake County News, cops say when they approached Lazard he refused to stop doing what he was doing and then actually began fighting with the fuzz.

Lazard faces one count of annoying/molesting and one count indecent exposure. The trial begins in March. Lazard faces up to a year in jail if convicted, and he'll have to register as a sex offender.

The creepiest part? The park's plaque, which reads, "This playground is dedicated to the children of Lakeport, CA, Creating Childhood Memories. Donate by Justin Lazard 2008."