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There’s hope even for sex offenders

Apr 25, 2012

from Chris Dornin's article in

....So we register sex offenders as surrogate terrorists and post their personal information as if it were bin Laden’s bio on the Internet for everyone to see. Failure to report to police on a quarterly basis earns a sex offender a new felony charge. We ban them from living near schools, daycare centers and school bus stops with draconian penalties for violations. We civilly commit them when they finish their prison terms. 

We make sure those are long sentences by stacking charges in multiple consecutive bids. Each image of child on hard drive becomes a separate felony. We give sex offenders special license plates. The police notify the neighbors when a sex offender moves in nearby. The neighbors evict them, or force the landlords to do it for them, sometimes subtly, sometimes with raw violence. 

....There is a far better way to help sex offenders rejoin society and avoid recidivism. The Canadians keep a nonpublic sex offender registry for the police to use in solving crimes. There is no Internet shaming roster. And they do a superb job helping sex offenders find jobs, apartments and a support system. 

The Mennonites in Canada arguably lead the way in rehabilitating and mentoring the most dangerous sex offenders. Their program model is called Circles of Support and Accountability, and it serves the kind of people California, Kansas and New Hampshire would civilly commit after they finish their prison terms. It’s the worst of the very worst. 

A 2007 study led by Robin J. Wilson of the Humber Institute of Technology found that offenders in the Circles program had a 2.1 percent sex offense recidivism rate after 34 months in the community. A control group of comparable very high risk offenders elsewhere in Canmada had a 12.8 percent sex offense recidivism rate, which is still quite low compared with conventional wisdom. 

Eileen Henderson is the Restorative Justice coordinator for the Mennonites in Ontario. She said half a dozen highly trained volunteers meet with a newly released offender, find out what help they need, and stand with them almost constantly in the beginning. 

Read the whole article.

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Dayna says:
Jun 03, 2012 04:56 PM

I used to work hard with the systems to place SOs in prison, until I married my second husband and he turned himself in for a sex offense and received 6 and a half to 13 year sentence. I have a face to a name now and instead of generalizing a population, see the other side. They have minimal supports to succeed once paroled. COSA does extraodinary work to help those who no one wants to help. I am also a licensed social worker in my state and have lost jobs, friends and colleagues due to my husband. Where is the justice? Thank you for printing this article. It gives me a little hope.

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