Wednesday, February 6, 2013

AL - Community concerned over sex offenders living at a church

Original Article

This is exactly what happens when you have residency laws. If you do not like this clustering of ex-offenders, then repeal the residency restrictions, then the ex-offenders can live in their original addresses.


By Clare Huddleston

CHILTON COUNTY (WBRC) - Triumph Church on County Road 374 looks like many churches in Chilton County. It has a cross above the door, an inspirational message on the sign out front, but it has also become home to 36 sex offenders.

"I don't like them living that close to me because my wife works in the yard a lot and they walk up and down the road all the time," explained Gordon "Duck" Burkhalter.

Burkhalter says Triumph Church popped up a few years ago. He does not mind the ministry, but he does not think it needs to be in a group setting and he does not like their living conditions.

"They got 4, 5, 6 trailers with 3-4 people in each trailer as far as I know," said Burkhalter.

As more sex offenders started moving into the trailers behind Triumph Church, it caught the eye of Chilton County Chief Deputy District Attorney, CJ Robinson.

"When somebody is released from the Department of Corrections and they are a registered sex offender, the DA get an info packet from the department of corrections and it lists the address, names, and info about the offense," said Robinson.

Since August 2010:
  • 36 sex offenders have listed Triumph Church as their address once they got out of prison.
  • 29 of them committed their crime against children; the youngest victim was 4 years old.
  • 13 cases involved some form of child molestation.

Another concerning stat for Robinson, these convicted criminals don't appear to have any ties to Chilton County. "Only one committed their crime in Chilton county," said Robinson, "That offense was a misdemeanor, it was a non-jail sentence, it was a probationary sentence."

"It's a scary thought," said State Representative Kurt Wallace, "I wouldn't have a problem with us taking care of our own but don't send me your problem children."
- These are not children!

Wallace isn't happy these sex offenders are moving into his district. He has pre-filed House Bill 85 for the 2013 legislation session. The bill states two sex offenders must live 500 feet apart from each other; they can't live under the same roof unless they are related or in a state-approved facility.

At this time there is no treatment center for sex offenders and if Wallace's bill passes it could severely limit where sex offenders can live.
- And thus create more problems!

Wallace said, "The biggest concern that people have is where are they gonna go? I don't know. I would suggest they go back to their families and I know where I don't want them to go. I don't want them in my neighborhood."
- Then repeal the residency laws, which do not work, instead of passing more knee-jerk laws, and which only create clusters of offenders in other areas of town, like you are seeing now.

Ricky Martin who runs Triumph Church declined to talk to Fox 6 News on camera. However, last year he told our sister station in Montgomery, WSFA, that all of the sex offenders who have come through his church have left as success stories.

Martin confirmed to Fox 6 News he's against Wallace's bill and he believes his ministry is helping. One sex offender agrees.

"He has helped us out," said [name withheld][name withheld] was convicted of first degree sexual abuse of a 9-year-old female. He moved to Triumph Church from Barbour County.

Robinson confirms the sex offenders like [name withheld], who have moved to Triumph Church, have not committed another sex crime that he's prosecuted. Still he thinks in this case it's better to be proactive than reactive.

"If we wait until there is a child that has been victimized we've waited too late," said Robinson.

1 comment :

Macintosh said...

No government official has the authority to regulate where a free citizen can live. Any law that does so is unconstitutional.

The government doesn't have the right to restrict free citizens from gathering and assembly. Again, another Constitutionally protected right.

Robinson falsely asserts that the state has the right to strip free citizens of their Constitutional rights based solely on the grounds that an individual from a group could re-offend and commit a new crime. The government has no such right. The government can be proactive in regards to preventing crime by other methods (education, regular police patrolling, additional school councilors, etc). Taking away a citizen's Constitutional rights serves two purposes: to administer additional punishment and to further the careers of politicians and bureaucrats. On some level these politicians probably are concerned about child safety, but there's nothing about the registry or any of the restrictions that have any actual measurable positive affect on improving child safety.

Robinson highlights that there are 36 offenders living at the church. 29 of those offenders committed crimes against children. He uses those numbers to infer two points : one is that sex offenders are, by definition, dangerous. Secondly, he infers that the clustering of sex offenders is even more dangerous. Then he goes on to admit that sex offenders at the church "have not committed another sex crime" While it's possible for someone to re-offend, the actual numbers show that individual sex offenders do not pose an additional risk to the community, and further more, clustering of sex offenders doesn't affect recidivism at all.

The term "registered sex offender" is so broad that it isn't reasonable to say that a "registered sex offender" is the same as saying "a person who has already sexually abused a child"

Lawmakers could pass bills that impose additional punishment for sex offenses, but they don't because those laws would be ruled unconstitutional.