By Sandy Rozek
I am writing in response to the article "Sex offenders in town down by more than 50 percent" by Paul Gnadt. (Editor's note: The article appeared on Page 7 of the Sept. 4 issue of the Burleson Star.)
While this fact is no doubt well received by parents and citizens in general, it is irresponsible journalism on your part to use it with no explanation as to what it does--and doesn't--accomplish.
What does it accomplish? 17 individuals, or some portion of them, now quite possibly have no fixed home address and therefore cannot be located by law enforcement if desired. I have never seen a study suggesting that homeless registrants are at a lower risk to re-offend that those with stable homes and lives. And if they are homeless in Alvarado, which you would not necessarily know, you have accomplished less than you think.
For those who have children and spouses, the problem is compounded. I can think of very little that justifies needlessly disrupting the stability of children and the implications that has on their social and academic lives.
For those who have been fortunate enough to relocate, they are in another town or city. Will this town or city also set out in a deliberate campaign to force them from their midst? Will every town in Texas? In neighboring states? What do you see as the ultimate outcome if every town does what you have done?
Now, what will this NOT accomplish? It will not have increased public safety in your town. Study after study has been done, and none of them were able to find any correlation between residency and presence restrictions for sex offenders and public safety. This is from the DOC website of another state, one that has chosen not to have residency restrictions. Their decision is based on extensive research, which they cite.
This move will not reduce the incidences of child abuse that are taking place now and will in the future. Virtually all sexual abuse of children is committed by those NOT already identified as sexual offenders, those people who are integral parts of their lives--their family members, their peers, and their authority figures. They are still among you, and you will never know who more than a tiny percentage of them are. And without concentrated education and prevention programs in the schools and the community, the percentage of children being sexually abused will not decrease.
You have not made children safer. You have not reduced the number of sex offenders in Alvarado by 50 percent or even by 1 percent. You have reduced the number of registrants by 50 percent. And you have gained nothing.