Friday, October 1, 2010

From one of my favorite bloggers

You can tell it's election season ...
You can tell it's election season when politicians begin launching demagogic proposals to get "tough" on sex offenders, as Gov. Rick Perry was doing in Houston this week in this speech. Commenters at the Texas Tribune following the story pretty universally viewed this as a transparent campaign ploy and counterproductive to actually managing sex offenders, but who know how such tactics resonate with the average voter?

It's not as though sex offender laws don't need revamping. Some lawmakers, with support from law enforcement, would like to pare back the sex offender registration list to focus supervision on serious, violent offenders so that there's some actual benefit from the expensive, time-consuming program which problematically soaks up local police and probation resources. Jordan Smith at the Austin Chronicle recently wrote an excellent story detailing the various ways the registration system has ballooned with less serious offenders until it's taxing law enforcement's ability to effectively oversee anyone. Perry's press hit, however, portrays everyone on the registration list as "predatory, high-risk sex offenders" and simply suggests spending more money for arrest and enforcement.

It's ironic that his complaint comes just as Stephen Brodie, the deaf man who was this week exonerated for a 1990 rape he didn't commit, was released from prison for violating the conditions of his sex-offender registration (because he never committed the underlying crime and so shouldn't have been registered).

Many more on the list committed much less serious offenses - often Romeo and Juliet style romances (I've met sex offenders who are married to their "victim") - which is a problem because a) many don't deserve the extra punishment and b) they divert scarce resources from more intensively supervising the most serious, violent offenders. In that sense, the public furor surrounding the registry, mostly promoted by self-interested politicians and lazy journalists, promotes false threats and ill-conceived hype that damage the community more than it protects it.

In political campaigns, the public expects politicians to debate the issues that concern them (even if Gov. Perry has decided it's not in his interest to debate at all), so it's regrettable that election season has become the one time when such important subjects are least likely to be discussed thoughtfully or productively.
» Read full article on[Grits for Breakfast]

1 comment:

Letsgetreal said...

We can certainly tell it's ELECTION TIME!

Until law makers know and understand the "EVIDENCE BASED RESEARCH," we will continue to write "FEEL GOOD," "KNEE JERK" legislation that "DOES MORE HARM THAN GOOD!"

By 1994, 670 studies of sex offenders had been done and by the end of 2005 well over 700. Many of these studies have been systematized through a methodology called meta-analysis. The resulting data reveal that many common myths about sex offenders are simply false. We outline here some of them.