Sex Offenders And Residency Issues Criminology Essay

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In todays society, we live in a free society, where we can practice any religion and pursue any career we want. We can also choose to live where we would like too. However, we cannot always choose who our neighbors will be. Nor can we always be trusted to live without the threat of sex offenders. These days, we need to be careful of how trusting we are with them, because not everyone is who they appear to be based on first impressions. I know this from firsthand experience that even though they may seem normal and pleasant enough, some of them can in fact, be a danger to you or your children. Parents need to be well educated and be made more aware of Level 3 sex offenders due to the crimes that they have committed or have been found guilty of sexual crimes against children. Where they live in relation to you and where they are allowed to be, unsupervised within your neighborhood is something that needs to be investigated to protect you and your family. There is a strong need to be aware of these potential threats, as a parent these responsibilities to protect your children from these predators should be number one. Level 3 sex offenders need tougher rehabilitation standards and supervision after parole as they are a risk for the reason they were designated as such and as a parent I know it is my responsibility to protect my children from these pedophiles.

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What is a sex offender? Any Google search will deem a sex offender as; "Generic term for all persons convicted of crimes involving sex, including rape, molestation, sexual harassment and pornography production and distribution. In general, it can be a man or woman who is convicted; however, most sex offenders are men who have committed these devastating crimes to mostly female victims. However, children of either sex or age are equally harmed by such hideous crimes. Sex offenders are listed on www.meaganslaw.com. The site will then direct you to your local community to search for any suspected offender in your area. Also, you can just search your local registry by doing a quick Google search. A sex offender is listed as either, Level 1, 2 or 3. The ratings vary depending on crimes committed and how the legal system carries out. Rule of thumb is, the higher the number, the more serious the offense. The courts determine the risk assessment based upon the seriousness of the offense: "The persistence of strict criminal liability for child sexual abuse is attributable, at least in part, to the shortcomings of the existing alternatives, namely, the recklessness and criminal negligence standards. These two standards require juries to define the acceptable level of risk on a case-by-case basis. Juries are ill-equipped to make this calculation in sexual abuse cases, however, and their efforts to do so almost invariably are skewed by evidence of the victim's unchastity."(Johnson) The court may assign one of the following three risk levels: Level 1 (low risk of repeat offense), or Level 2 (moderate risk of repeat offense), or Level 3 (high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety exists. "The risk principle states that higher risk offenders should receive more intensive services, whereas lower risk offenders should receive less intensive services. However, the criminal justice system routinely ignores the risk principle for sex offenders and treats them all the same with little regard for level of risk."(Lovins) The sex offenders, pending on their rating then have requirements to meet. They must register with their local law enforcement within a specific timeframe and there are certain restraints that are in place for sex offenders. "Results fail to support the supposition that sexual offenders who fail to register are more sexually dangerous than those who comply with registration requirements. The punitive emphasis on registration enforcement may not be justified and might divert limited resources away from strategies that would better facilitate public protection from sexual violence".(Levenson 302) The consensus would seem to indicate other wise however these numbers show that it does not indicate a jump in recidivism. In most states, convicted sex offenders are mandated to report to local police authorities on their release and give them a current address of residency. However, many do not and many times, it can be months, if not longer, before anyone can or will check on their whereabouts. "More than 30 states currently ban sex offenders from residing in certain areas, up from 27 states in 2007. Generally, these statutes prohibit sex offenders from living anywhere from 500 to 2,500 feet from specified locations such as schools or child care facilities."( Zlatkovich 219)

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Sex offenders are not allowed to work on ice cream trucks or day care centers for example. Level 3 offenders are not supposed to be within a 500 radius from most schools whether it be their residence or employment. Depending on where you live and who enforces this law, it is often overlooked in most communities due to limited manpower or limited knowledge. Many communities are passing or considering zoning ordinances that restrict where convicted sex offenders may reside after being released from prison. Typically, the local residency restrictions bar offenders from living -- and sometimes even working -- within a designated number of feet of schools, parks, libraries and other places children normally congregate. Supporters of the zoning ordinances say they protect children, while opponents say such restrictions may be going too far and are suing to overturn them.(Gentile). Sex offenders are people too, however they have to live with the burden, shame, and fact of being accused of molesting a child or minor. They certainly can work anywhere unnoticed by most who do not conduct thorough background checks, some places close to home employ sex offenders and unless you take it upon yourself to do the research by browsing a registry you would never know a sex offender was working with you.

Working at Stream I found that about 2% of the workers were on the registry with two level 3 sex offenders working with some teenagers, management wasn't inclined to give an explanation as to how they were working near teenagers. They have by all rights to earn a living however at what cost, with limited supervision in a call center and the work force unknowingly that their safety could be in jeopardy, who could take precautions to prevent a possible crime in the workplace? From my time with the company no incident was reported which shows they can work without letting their past become a work place casualty.

Having had a firsthand experience dealing directly with a Level 3 sex offender, who lives in our village, my wife and I had to make decisions to keep our children safe, some we have regretted as we gave up our independence. This offender seems to always be out walking by my house in the mornings, when my three daughters are getting on the school bus. We have noticed him on numerous occasions, walking within the limits of the primary school. In fact, he was the reason; we were forced to move out of our duplex, which sits within 400 feet of the primary school. Yes offenders have the right to walk freely however it seems almost daunting that knowing you're not supposed to do something often seems to be somewhat pleasuring.

Local law enforcement in our area, are well aware of this resident sex offender and they try to keep an eye on him. When they are on patrol, he has not been a threat. However, we do not take it for granted, having our three girls near to our heart and within eyesight at all times. When we heard the news of who this person was, we instantly had to revoke their freedom of playing in their own yard. The girls have been made aware of this person and that we have deemed him, "a bad man". They have been given careful and explicit instructions if he should ever approach them or they find themselves in a situation where he is. It is unimaginable to think, any parent would allow their children to play unattended, knowing that this man walks freely down our streets and hangs out at the corner store.

It was not until, this person moved into the other side of our duplex with his friends, that we were even made aware of the "who, what, where, when and how" he came to our village. I spoke directly to my landlord about this concern, with him, knowingly we had children. We expressed how dissatisfied we were with him, allowing this man to move in next door with no apparent consideration for us or our children. As I found out later from the neighbors, they claimed that our landlord was hurting for money, so he overlooked his past. We then sent him a formal request to be released from our year long lease agreement as our neighbor was less than desirable and we felt him to be a threat to the welfare of our children. Our landlord did allow us to be released from our lease, even though he tried and tried to get us to reconsider and stay. The landlord basically, threw the undesirable gentleman out to try and keep us happy, but that decision was still not in our best interest. The man would continue to visit our neighbors on a regular basis and continued to be a potential threat to our daughters. He knowingly let a tenant, with a potential danger to our children move in without any consideration for us.

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So, since we felt it necessary to leave our duplex, we asked for in writing, our security deposit returned. Our landlord flatly refused to give it back to us on grounds we broke the lease. Therefore, I had to go to court and file papers to sue him for the security deposit. I did not do this out of spite, but out of principle and to make a point. That we felt, he endangered our living arrangements by renting to a sex offender with the potential of a threat to our children. When we went to court, we explained our concerns and expressed our thoughts to the judge. We explained how we felt we were forced to move and after the judge asked his questions, both parties were given time to respond. We were dismissed and advised we would receive his decision by mail. A few weeks later, we received a copy of the judgment in the mail. The courts decided that we had no bargaining power in our lease and that the convenance of our lease was broken due to his actions. Therefore, we were entitled to our full security deposit refund. There was even an article printed in the Watertown Daily Times, when our decision was made public.(McEvoy 91-100)

This judgment has set precedence for future tenants. "Sex offenders are among the most loathed and detested members of our society. Over the past fifteen years, communities have zealously passed laws restricting the rights of sex offenders. These laws mandate that sex offenders register with authorities and severely limit where sex offenders may reside. This legislation is designed to foster an important goal: to protect the health and safety of children from possible recidivism from sex offenders." (Tierney) No one should have to feel the fears we endured or have to make the sacrifice of independent living, because a potential threat was allowed to move in next door. Again, who would even fathom they would end up living next to a sex offender? I read in the Watertown Daily Times, a man was going to lose his visitation rights to his child, if he didn't find better housing, because his neighbor was also a sex offender So where should sex offenders reside? " A. homeless shelter at the Westchester County Airport is not only within walking distance of at least four schools, but also in even closer proximity to actual neighborhoods, with actual children, with actual parents who have changed their behavior after recently learning about the existence of this shelter.

Convicted Level 3 sex offenders deserve no sympathy and must be located as far away from children as possible. Not within walking distance, and certainly not when they have from 3 to 6:30 p.m. to ''do as they please.'' (Sex offenders down the street) Not an ideal place for sex offenders to live moreover they do need a place to live as they are humans, could we possibly find them a safer place, Battered women have a women's shelter but who would pick up the tab for sex offenders?

It's really shocking that people can be so naive about a sex offender. I am sure that there are those who have been rehabilated and not all offenders may be guilty of the crimes they were accused of. However who can really trust one and let them babysit their children? Knowing that some parents let an offender babysit for them is just unheard of, it is possible though that they are allowed to if they are not a level 3, but who can be so trusting of one?

People who may encounter a sex offender in life can quickly be irritated and possibly take out some aggression by hazing or even as going so far as injuring a sex offender based on pure hate or mental obstacle. These offenders have the rights to live just like the rest of us, however they are treated. The media has a drastic influence on the lives of convicted sex offenders.

Ferguson served a 14 year jail term ending in 2003 having been convicted of numerous sexual offences against children. In 2005 he was arrested and held in custody on two charges of indecent dealing with children. Before his case was heard in full there was a concerted media campaign against him.8 So serious was this campaign, together with the weakness of the case against him, he was granted a permanent stay of proceedings.9 Justice Botting also ruled that the case against Ferguson relied on weak evidence, and indeed, there was some evidence suggesting that another person might be responsible for the crimes in that case.10

Upon his release in 2008 under 24-hour police supervision, Ferguson was pursued and vilified by Queensland media and forced to relocate several times. Each time he was 'found' he was harassed by vigilantes in a number of communities urged on by the media. After Botting J's decision was overturned in the Supreme Court a warrant was issued for the arrest of Ferguson.11 He was granted bail pending leave to appeal to the High Court.12 That same day the television news on all channels showed file footage of Ferguson describing him, amongst other things as a notorious convicted pedophile.( Ardill, Allan, and Ben Wardle)

Imagine being this guy, having to relocate because the power of media influenced public outcry, surely his crimes were punished, however he has a right to get back to normalcy. Being pursued by vigilante's is a reality some offenders have to face, remorse may not be enough for public opinion, any crime against a child should invoke hostility, further evidence shows that any act of vigilantism is punished by law.

Having compassion and an equal understanding that they are too human beings and they need a fair shake on life is very important, if we took matters into our own hands what justice would this hold for us as Americans? Based upon their distinction in most places, hazing, vigilantism are things they have to endure and some have been murdered for crimes they committed. Being aware of your surroundings and where offenders live nearby is an avid tool, however most notifications are sent out by local schools to parents and site's like meganslaw.com are often updated as well, being an avid for notification there is an extreme where it may be more harmful then good, for instance: When Critics call Ms. Ahearn's zealous pursuit of sex offenders counterproductive and unconstitutional, and contend that overexposure can deter the offenders from checking in with the authorities. How does this accomplish a fair shake for offenders to re-eneter society? ''Mapping out sex offenders makes them greater social lepers than they already are,'' said Seth Muraskin, executive director of the Suffolk County chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. ''You're fostering punishment, not rehabilitation, and you're leaving them very vulnerable to mob justice. You're basically challenging vigilantes to come to their doors.'' (Kilgannon)

Being unsure if one has committed a crime does not give the right for anyone to take matters into their own hands, there are steps you can implore to be sure, checking your local offender registry or local schools can accomplish this. Talking with your children, telling them to walk in groups if they walk home from school is most common form of safeguarding your children. Staying alert in your community and visiting with your local police agency can also garner safer outcomes against a possible act of vigilantism.

The designation of Level 1, 2 and 3 of sex offenders and the fact that you can check their status on line is a safe guard. By looking through the registry you can see what type of crime they committed, how long they were incarcerated, how long their parole is, where they live, what kind of vehicle they own, where they work this is a very useful tool. Parents should be more proactive in protecting their children. As well as, knowing that if a situation similar to mine arises, it may not keep them bound to their lease. While it is nearly impossible to look at someone and know instantly, if they are a sex offender or not, parents need to be careful in today's society and be aware of what dangers may lurk in their neighborhood or even worse, next door. Children are our future and we need to keep them safe without taking the law into our own hands. We are people who need to be tolerant of offenders however the need to protect our children is our ultimate responsibility.