The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

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

When Logic Goes Out the Window

W. Scott Cole

Posted on July 28, 2019 15:25

1 user

If criminal justice reform means anything, sometimes you have to talk about the boogeyman. Reform means talking about every part of the system, not just the parts that people feel most comfortable with. Even what society calls the "worst" people deserve humane treatment.

Yes, we are talking about people with convictions for sexual crimes. There is no doubt that they are some of the worst crimes that anyone can commit. Because it is easy to hate and target such people, the “get tough on crime” politicians use them to score political points in campaigns and because such news sells; the media jumped on the bandwagon to vilify everyone with such a conviction.

It rapidly escalated to the point that the public came to believe that people with sexual convictions have a 100% recidivism rate and are basically no more than animals. This is in spite of the fact that, for as long as studies of recidivism rates have existed, they have always shown that the only major felony with a lower recidivism rate is murder. Today, the chances that someone with a sexual conviction will commit another sexual crime is under 5% and was never very much higher than that.

Society went to the extremes, putting draconian restrictions in place. The one restriction that became the most popular, yet at the same time is the most illogical, is residency restrictions. They exist all over the country and basically say the same thing. Nobody with a sexual conviction can live within a certain distance of a daycare, school, library, or park.

On its face, it makes sense, but dig a little deeper into the details and think a little bit about what it means and the logic behind the idea rapidly unravels.

The first thing any ex-felon needs is a place to live. From there, all other things are possible, including a job, which is the second thing he needs. Most ex-felons live with a family member or friend until they can get their feet under them, but if he is restricted from living within a certain distance of any place children congregate, which can be up to 2,000 feet (almost half a mile), he will almost always find himself homeless. That means finding a job and making a law-abiding life almost impossible.

As an example of how residency restrictions work in practice, consider the person with a sexual conviction that could live with his mother, but she happens to live across the street from a school.

During the day, when children are present, he can visit his mother every day all day long, but at night, when there are no children around, he can’t sleep there. If he could live there, it would be easier to find a job, which would mean that during the day, when children are around, he would be at work. He would be home only after the children are gone.

Residency restrictions are just one example of a society overreacting and not only increasing the chances of recidivism, but if the person is one of the few (sadly, the John Wayne Gacys will always exist among us) that will always commit another crime, the restrictions actually make potential victims less safe.

W. Scott Cole

Posted on July 28, 2019 15:25

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Source: The Guardian

Proposal under consideration by congress would free criminals convicted of extrajudicial killings and torture War criminals...

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