The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

When Does the Punishment End? (Part Four)

W. Scott Cole

Posted on October 3, 2018 23:34

2 users

This is the final segment on continued punishment after a convicted felon completes his sentence and tries to rejoin society, but today we will concentrate on the punishment families must endure. The law of unintended consequences punishes the families of the people on the registries for those convicted of sexual crimes in ways few people think about.

First, let me say that I will not use the word “offender” to refer to anyone who has a criminal record, regardless of what crime they were convicted of. They may have offended against society when they committed the crime, but while they are trying their best to reintegrate into society and live a law-abiding life, they are offending nobody and therefore are not “offenders”.

How many of us think about the impact registries have on the families of the people state and federal laws require to be on registries because they committed a sexual crime? Do we even have any awareness the forms that impact takes?

Like any other person coming out of prison, the best way to reduce recidivism for those with sexual convictions is a strong support network. The best support network is family and friends. Yet supporting someone on a registry usually ends up punishing the family and friends of that person in many ways.

Parents, siblings, and friends all report harassment and shaming as a result of their family member being on a registry and if the registrant lives with the family members or friends, the harassment can escalate into physical attacks and vandalism of their property. It is even worse for spouses and children of the registrant.

The financial hardship hits families severely. The registrant has trouble finding a job and that job, when they do find it, is usually low paying, menial labor. Finding a place to live can be so hard that the spouses and children end up homeless. Spouses are excluded from social activities and isolated. They lose friends and sometimes are alienated by their own families because of their decision to support someone they love. The high stress levels they experience can have an adverse effect on their mental health and lead to depression.

Yet, with all that adult family members are subjected to, it is the children of registrants that pay the highest price. Their parent is unable to take them to school or pick them up after school, cannot attend school functions such as plays and recitals or sports events, or even attend parent-teacher conferences.

Children can be cruel and if the status of a child’s parent becomes known (and it almost always will), the results can be disastrous. A study done by Jill Levinson shows that the harassment and ostracism the child is subjected to causes anger in 80% of them, depression in 77%, anxiety in 73%, fear in 63%, and suicide in 13%. 56% percent of the children of registrants are excluded from playing at a friend’s house and 70% are unsuccessful at having friends come to their house to play. In addition, 22% are physically attacked by other children.

The law of unintended consequences seems to have made victims out of the innocent families and children of people on registries and the results of the studies done indicate that they are definitely punished, even though they committed no crimes.

W. Scott Cole

Posted on October 3, 2018 23:34

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Source: Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's prison population has dropped the past two years, but the number of people on parole and probation...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest