A call to action

A call to action
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010



Original Article

As in the typical knee-jerk reaction, they quickly add more punishment to all sex offenders. And the man who has been charged with the crime, has not even been found guilty yet!


By John Wilkens

Provisions of Chelsea's Law unveiled in the state Capitol today might not be the best approach for how to rein in sex offenders, two experts said.

Jill Levenson (Email), a human services professor at Lynn University in Florida who analyzes sex-crime policy, wondered about the timing of the measure, noting that the state Sex Offender Management Board is currently studying sex offender policy and will be forwarding recommendations to improve the system.

When these kinds of crimes happen they are tragic and scary and it’s not surprising that people want to find ways to prevent them from happening again,” she said. “But maybe before passing laws there should be a thoughtful analysis of what happened, a careful autopsy of what went wrong. We need to understand how to provide better case management instead of trying to come up with another one-size-fits-all law.”

She said some of the measure’s features — GPS tracking, mandatory-minimum sentences, parole for life — “aren’t necessary for everybody and they do become very costly.”

The offender board was tapped by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Contact) to review state handling of the 2000 molestation case of convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III. He now stands accused of raping and killing Chelsea King, 17, of Poway, for whom the Chelsea's Law proposal is named.
- He's accused, but has not been found guilty yet, and yet everyone is assuming he did do the crime and have already condemned the man.  Why don't you wait until after the sentencing before acting in the typical knee-jerk reaction.  He may be guilty, but he may also be innocent, and stop naming laws after dead people! [UPDATE: Gardner already pleaded guilty.]

Marc Renzema, a criminal justice professor at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and an expert on GPS tracking, was also cautionary.

I’m all for extended supervision, but not necessarily GPS for life,” he said. “We don’t have a clue just yet about the psychological impact or even the deterrent impact of ‘forever’ monitoring.”

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

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