LaDarius D. Abraham
Southern University A&M College
Sex offenders have been a serious problem for our legal system at all levels, not to mention those who have been their victims. Sadly, many of those assaults are perpetrated by people who have already been through the correctional system only to victimize again. Sex offenders, as a class of criminals, are nine times more likely to repeat their crimes (Oakes 99). This presents a problem for the public, as potential victims, and the legal system which is entrusted by the public for protection. It would be irresponsible for the legal system to ignore the criminal class of sex offenders, for they are subject to a recurring physiological urge that requires the use of effective restraints that would curb the habitual repetition of episodes producing the harmful consequences to the public (Schopf 95). Both surgical and chemical castrations are techniques used in various forms in this country and abroad with success. However, both forms of castrations have not come about without criticism on constitutional grounds. Any criticism should take into account the extraordinary recidivism rates found only in the criminal class of the sex offender. A more recent study, published in the same journal, by Looman et al in 2000 suggests the opposite. Of the released sex offenders they studied they found a 23.6 percent recidivism rate for those treated while a 51.7 percent rate for the untreated group. They also conducted an analysis separately on the outcome for men who had previous sexual convictions. Those with no previous sexual offense convictions had a 20.9 percent recidivism rate of the treated men compared to 42.9 percent of the untreated men. Of the men with previous sexual offenses, 26.1 percent of the treated group sexually reoffended compared to 73.1 percent of the untreated men. According to this study, treatment is invaluable in minimizing the recidivism of sex offenders with previous offenses. With such conflicting reports on the effectiveness of treatment it is easy to see why our legal system has taken other steps to keep sex offenders from continually victimizing. Registration of sex offenders began in 1994 with the Jacob Wetterling Crimes against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act. It encouraged states, by threatening to hold back ten percent of their crime-fighting funding, to establish systems where anyone who commits a sexual or kidnapping offense against a child is required to register his or her address with the state upon release. This original version gave law enforcement agencies the choice when to release an offender’s information if they thought it necessary for the public’s protection. Unfortunately, some law enforcement agencies did not do so (Oakes 99). On July 29, 1994, the ineffectiveness of the current notification law became painfully apparent. Megan Kanka, unbeknownst to her or her family, lived across the street from three convicted sex offenders. On that day Jesse Timmendequas, a twice-convicted sex offender, lured Megan into his house by promising to show her a new puppy. He then raped and murdered her. Other than the three men, no one in the residential neighborhood of Trenton, New Jersey was aware of their criminal backgrounds (Oakes 99). Timmendequas had been released despite his and his therapist’s doubts that he could adjust to life outside of prison. On top of this, he had been granted early release for “good time”, even though failed to participate regularly in prescribed therapy. “Had I known that there were three pedophiles living across the street from my home, I never would have allowed Megan to walk out of the door of my house alone. I guarantee she would be alive today,” stated Maureen Kanka (Martin 96). In response to this preventable atrocity New Jersey enacted Megan’s Law. On May 17, 1996 President Clinton, on recommendation from The Department of Justice, amended the 1994 Wetterling...
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