I recently read an article “Sex Offenders Exposed” by Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle. This article really upset me. The article is about how some people want sex offenders to have a path for de-registration. Read it for yourself. Below is a copy of a two page letter that I wrote to Jordan and the Austin Chronicle showing them how their article “Sex Offenders Exposed” is completely one sided, and minimizes what a victim has gone through. I have also submitted a shorter 300 word letter to the editor; which was very difficult for me to do because these facts don’t fit into 300 words.
Dear Jordan Smith,
Your article on Sex Offenders comes across as completely one sided. Why is it that a person has to be considered to be sexually VIOLENT to be a threat, and the only ones that need to be kept track of? A person does NOT have to be sexually violent to pose a further threat to children, and society at large. While it is true that the more violent the crime the more likely the offender is to repeat it; not all repeat offenders are violent. “Nearly 1/3 of child victimizers had NEVER BEFORE been ARRESTED PRIOR to the CURRENT OFFENSE, compared to less than 20% of those who victimized adults” (www.yellodyno.com). The RIGHT OF A CHILD TO BE A CHILD is far more IMPORTANT than taking an offender’s word that he or she won’t do it again because far too many of them do, do it again. Why are there so many who are willing to gamble with the innocence of a child? Did you know that “3 in 10 victimizers reported that they had committed their crimes against MULTIPLE VICTIMS: they were MORE likely than those who victimized adults to HAVE HAD MULTIPLE VICTIMS” (www.yellodyno.com). The typical child molester has about 117 victims most of which DO NOT REPORT what happened (www.sexoffenderfinder.com). 1-10% of child molestations is never disclosed which makes it one of the most UNDERREPORTED crimes; much like rape (www.yellodyno.com). Dr. Ann Burgers and others in a study of imprisoned offenders found that their actions were “highly repetitive, to the point of compulsion, rather than resulting from a lack of judgment”. In a National Crime Victimization Survey in 1996 it was found that less than 1 in every 3 rapes and sexual assaults was reported. Offenders who have child victims on average have shorter sentences than those who have adult victims (www.yellodyno.com).
Your argument that the sex offender registry is not effective because most sex offences occur at the hands of someone the victim knows is laughable to me. While it is true that most sex offences occur at the hands of someone the victims knows; that offender was a stranger at some point in their lives. A family who is getting to know someone should have access to the registry to know if that person is a known threat or not. Of the child abuse sex offenders 60% are an acquaintance…that is someone the family doesn’t know that well (www.yellodyno.com). Why wouldn’t the registry provide useful information to families when they are making new friends, or to a single parent who is making new friends who will be around their children?
Senator John Whitmire’s words of, “we’re painting everybody with a broad brush” is no excuse for taking the measures that he and Texas Voices proposes. They cry and say that they are being painted with the broad brush of sex offender, but their solution is to use a broad brush to allow almost all sex offenders a way to get off the registry. I don’t know anyone who thinks that makes sense. If they truly want to help those who end up on this list who shouldn’t be there, then their efforts should be to have the laws clarified so that those who don’t belong on the list don’t end up on it. And not geared towards making a way for those who should be on the sex offender list a way to get off. The problems that they are talking about seem to be due to the wording of the laws, and not the registry itself. Also, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 sets limits to how long an offender has to register based on what tier they are in. Tier 1 sex offenders register for 15 years, Tier 2 for 25 years, and Tier 3 for life (www.ncsl.org). In addition the State can decide to shorten the registration length according to the Tier system for having a clean record for a certain amount of time, and for completing certain programs (www.ncsl.org). There were also many grants available for the States to help with the funding of the implementation of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006; most of which have expired, but they were there for the States to use. If the State wanted help with the funding then they shouldn’t have waited until the funding ended to try to implement this law. All of which you could have easily found out if you did any research into the Act, but judging from your article it doesn’t look like you did. Or you did, and the facts didn’t work with the one-sidedness of your story so you choose to leave it out.
Your article also talks about “risk-assessment tools” that are designed to determine the offender’s chances that he or she will reoffend. I am not against the use of such “tools”, but I feel as though those “tools” are not up-to-date as they should be. So while their “tools” tell them that my offender is at a “low” risk of reoffending I have to wonder what they are thinking. If he was only going to do it one time, why then did I go through a year and a half to two years of abuse? That is the actions of someone who is willing to repeat their disgusting actions over and over again. Do their “risk-assessment tools” take into account the maliciousness of his trickery, and how well he had planned his deception? I am only left to believe that their “risk-assessment tools” do not take those things and other things into account; because if they did then there would be no way that he would be listed as being at a “low” risk to reoffend.
Your article also talks about the unfortunate effects the registry has on the family members of those who are on the list. It is very unfortunate that the children who live with someone who is on the list are affected in such ways, and children should not have to bear the consequences of the actions of another person. This is again a spot where your article is once again one sided. There are real victims behind these sex offenders whose lives are forever changed. Who live with the shame of what has been done to them. What about the life sentence that a victim has. A victim/ survivor of sexual abuse and sexual assault will never be able to apply to have that part of their life fixed. And the justice system only re-victimizes. As the victim & survivor of childhood sexual abuse the court system treated me more like I was the bad person, and pandered to just about every wish that my abuser had. As victims and survivors we are told to be silent and to not talk about what we have been through. Any form of abuse thrives and lives in the silence. It’s not right to ask a victim and a survivor to return to that silence because it’s inconvenient to others. Articles like yours say that the victims of these crimes aren’t important enough to make sure that fixes are done properly, and that what we have suffered is minimized; but it does say, “let’s just use that same broad brush that we’re complaining about to set almost all of the sex offenders free from the registry list”. Where would be the Justice in that? There wouldn’t be.
Here are the websites that I got these statistics from: