By Shana Rowan (Blog, Facebook)
I am the fiancee to a sex offender (crime committed at age 12) and registry reform advocate — and am still attempting to understand why a registrant providing an incorrect address is considered “news.” Particularly when it has yet to be determined whether or not the mistake was intentional, it sounds much more likely that Councilwoman (Rose Mary) Christian was eagerly awaiting an opportunity to get her name in the paper. (“Christian: Sex offender picked the wrong address,” story, Sept. 11.)
Instead of giving a politician with a clear, admitted bias a platform from which to crow her bigotry, why not use this as an opportunity to enlighten readers about some of the lesser-known facts regarding sex offenders and sex crime?
Christian openly admits that she won’t give sex offenders a second chance. Other than crying to the paper, making sure to highlight her personal disdain for registrants, where is her solution? It might feel good to make life difficult for registrants, but as public policy, it is disastrous. Doesn’t she know that homelessness, lack of access to treatment and support systems, and inability to support ones’ self have all been proven to be factors in increasing recidivism? These things have all been clearly documented, and it would have been prudent to include this in your article.
Many sex offenders have not victimized children and are not (have never been) violent. Children themselves make up over a third of all perpetrators of sex crimes against other children. Are we to throw them under the bus as well? Many registrants have families and children of their own, whose safety is put at risk every day due to the ignorance and selfishness of people like Councilwoman Christian. We don’t often hear from them, since for the most part, they are bullied into silence. Recidivism rates for sex offenders are in the single digits and have been since before the registry. New York-based researcher Dr. Jeffrey Sandler found that 96 percent of sex crimes are committed by someone not on the registry — and just as many are perpetrated by family or an acquaintance known to the victim, not a stranger.
What good can it possibly do for our communities if our elected officials repeatedly insist on using anecdote and emotion, rather than empirical research, as the premise for legislation?