Friday, October 4, 2013

San Antonio proposal bans sex offenders from parks

Week #5
Article #3
1.     Category of problem: Politics
2.     Level of problem: Local
3.     This article concerns: individuals that are registered sex offenders and families with minors that live near parks.
4.     Importance/effect on families/individuals: If the proposal is approved in San Antonio, this new law will affect registered sex offenders because they would be banned from parks and will not be able to live around them unless they are 1,000 feet away. This law will also affect families with minors because it will give them peace that any registered sex offender will be far enough from the park where many kids will be playing.

5.     My input:  In this article, a new law is being proposed in San Antonio to ban sex offenders from parks. If this law is approved, many families will be more at peace when their kids go out to play because registered sex offenders will not be allowed to live near parks unless they are 1,000 feet away. In my opinion even though there will still be some sex offenders around parks that are not yet caught, this law can still help protect minors from registered sex offenders and prevent any incidents from happening again by the already registered sex offenders.  

1 comment:

  1. While I agree that keeping convicted pedophiles out of parks where children play is a good idea, I have a few issues with this law.

    It supports the myth that a large portion of individuals with sex offender status are pedophilic adults preying on children. In fact, there are numerous ways an individual can be added to the sex offender registry, including consensual sex between teenagers and public urination. Additionally, a large portion of sex offenders are not committing crimes against children, the only party which this law hopes to protect. Furthermore, only 2.2% of convicted child molesters were complete strangers to the children they abused. This law would do little to protect a child from their parent, family member, teacher or otherwise abusive party with which the child is acquainted.

    I think perpetuating the stereotype of sex offenders as violent child molesters, as well as instating laws that prevent sex offenders from being around children, is a practice that only further harms registered sex offenders. Obviously I don’t feel there is much justice to be served for individuals who have raped or sexually abused children or adults, but there are a significant number of sex offenders who have not committed such heinous crimes – not to mention nearly 20% of sex crimes against children are committed by children. I believe there should be justice for juvenile offenders and the many registered sex offenders that have not committed sexually dangerous crimes. Not only do laws such as this one perpetuate the sometimes unfounded crusade against sex offenders, they have proven to be emotionally damaging, and more importantly, ineffective.

    The Human Rights Watch conducted a survey on the lives of registered sex offenders and released this comment by a sex offender registered at 14: "I live in a general sense of hopelessness, and combat suicidal thoughts almost daily… the shame will never fully go away. People will always remember." Findings from the study went on to detail livelihoods riddled with the inability to acquire jobs, find homes or see their families. Further research shows that sex offenders laws such as the one in question are ineffective in preventing sex crimes due to the fact that, 1) harsh and dehumanizing penalties and jail time will prevent healthy reintegration, increasing the chance of criminal behavior, and 2) homelessness of sex offenders, a condition which will be perpetuated by the new San Antonio law, makes it difficult for police to track sex offenders thereby rendering the registry useless in the first place. Similarly, I feel like it would be unrealistically difficult to enforce a law that doesn’t allow sex offenders at parks – how does a police officer or citizen know a registered sex offender by looking at them? If anything, the law deeply encourages profiling.

    I am a strong believer in the rights of victims of sex crimes, but until the federal and state laws regarding sex offenders and the sex offender registries undergo greater scrutiny and reformation, I will not support any law that acts as further padding for the existing ones.