Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sexual Offenders and Society

I've decided to set some time aside and create a sampling of news and commentary throughout society centered on sexual offenders. The intent behind this effort is to expose the reader to some of the issues that sexual offenders have to deal with. Again and again, we see that society has placed hurdle after hurdle in the way of these people overcoming the issues they struggle with. This is a work in progress.

Oshkosh Northwestern - 12/18/2006

Sexual offender notification meeting tonight

A sexual offender community notification meeting will be held tonight at 7 p.m. in room 406 of City Hall, 215 Church Ave.

[The offender], 27, was released from prison in November and will be living on [address].

The Mercury News - 12/17/2006

Law may push sex-crime offenders from downtown San Diego

San Diego police said they want to reduce the number of sex offenders who live downtown.

The Columbus Dispatch - 12/17/06

Forcing offenders to move isn't easy

"I was born right next door," [the offender] said. "My mother owned this property and gave me my home as a wedding gift in 1958."

He also said he couldn’t afford to move even if he wanted to.

"While it means something to me, I wouldn’t make enough money selling this house," he said. "The only thing I can do is keep living where I am."

...

[The offender], 50, committed sexual battery on his adult ex-girlfriend in 1996, he said. Since then, he has married a "beautiful woman," bought his childhood home, found a job he loves, had a daughter and is rebuilding his life.

"If a man served his time and hasn’t committed his crime again in a number of years, then I feel that man should have the chance to be included back into society," he said. "He should be able to live wherever he wants."

David Singleton agrees.

"I think it’s one of the worst, most irrational laws that has ever been passed in the state of Ohio," said Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center. "It’s absurd and doesn’t protect the kids or the communities. But no politician will do anything, because they don’t want to appear soft on sex offenders."

An Akron psychologist agrees.

... Dr. Joseph Salwan, who specializes in adolescent and adult sexual addiction and deviance. "It provides a false sense of security to people and works against our ability to integrate and rehabilitate the offenders into society."

KNX1070 NEWSRADIO - 12/17/06

New Database Will Determine Where Offenders Can Live

...a map of the off-limit areas for sex offenders shows only a few blocks of downtown San Diego that would be available to sex offenders if the residency requirements are enforced, the newspaper reported.

San Diego police Sgt. Mark Sullivan said a first-of-its-kind database was being developed that would tell sex offenders where they could and could not move.

GRITS FOR BREAKFAST - 12/16/06

Sex offender registry filled with errors

Sure, the sex offender registration sounds good in theory. But in practice it's basically useless to the public, and when it's filled with errors and omissions it becomes actively harmful. At this point, I can't identify any real public safety use for it at all. All that appears to be left is it's PR value.

Austin American-Statesman - 12/16/06

Gaps in local online data about sex offenders includes inaccurate, missing information

An American-Statesman review of 100 sex offender records from the police site also shows that it is often in conflict with the statewide Web site maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety

Sunday Mirror - 12/17/06

UNDIE THEFTS TO BE MADE A SEX CRIME

Perverts who steal women's underwear from washing lines could be added to the sex offenders' register under a crackdown to be announced by Home Secretary John Reid tomorrow.

Comment: That's ten years to life of pure living hell

KCTV Channel 5 News - taken from site 12/18/06

Commission recommends examining prison rate, sex offender laws

Also during the meeting, representatives from the Oklahoma Sex Offender Management Team told commissioners the restrictive nature of the state's sex offender laws, which forbid registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school, playground or day care center, are forcing many offenders to either move out of urban areas _ where most areas now are off-limits for them _ into rural areas, where treatment options are limited, or not register at all.

The Legislature should consider rescinding or revising those residency requirements, said Richard Kishur, an Oklahoma City doctor who provides treatment to sex offenders and a member of the Sex Offender Management Team. "We all have the central focus of keeping our citizens safe," Kishur told commissioners, saying one of the "unintended consequences" of the current law is that "we're partitioning off sex offenders, and unfortunately, they're going into rural communities."

Washington Post - 12/12/06

Virginia Proposal Aims to Keep Sex Offenders Off Networking Sites

Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) said Monday that he will push for legislation requiring sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses and instant messaging screen names

Telegram & Gazette - 12/15/06

Mayor correctly vetoed sex offender bill

Though laudable in their intent, these laws create more problems than they solve. They cause sex offenders to become transient and sometimes homeless, making them more difficult to track and supervise. Despite widespread popularity, there is no empirical evidence that sex offender residence restrictions prevent sex crimes or increase public safety. In fact, disrupting offenders’ stability is unlikely to be in the public’s best interest because it exacerbates the psychosocial stressors that can contribute to reoffending.

Reno Gazette-Journal - 12/15/06

2 high-risk sex offenders move to Reno, Sparks

Two men designated by the state as high-risk sex offenders have moved into the area, officers of the Regional Sex Offender Notification Unit said Thursday.

Comment: The local newspaper announces arrivals of sex offenders?

Cincinnatt.com - 12/11/06

When the new neighbor is a sex offender

Simply creating fear and distrust hardly seems like the best "notification" system.

CSI - 9/06

Predator Panic: A Closer Look

...state emergency leaders in Florida and Texas, for example, are developing plans to oute convicted sex offenders away from public emergency shelters during hurricanes. “We don’t want them in the same shelters as others,” said Texas omeland Security Director Steve McCraw.

Imagine you were in the midst of an intense struggle to overcome an addiction you detest, and having to deal with all of this on top of it.

Purple Saffron

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Gratitude

I just wanted to take a moment and express my appreciation to the Blogger/Blogspot and the whole free blog community for making this forum available. Without it, it would be much more difficult to get my ideas out to the world. Now these theories and ideas can be judged on their own merits, rather than on how much money I have.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Exports, the Life-Blood of a Community

From my point of view, there are two major things that an isolated city needs to maintain its population. One is a source of water. The other is an exportable resource. As I understand it, almost all other needs can be provided for with at least a little creativity. The water is not too difficult to understand, but I’d like to take a moment to discuss the necessity for an exportable resource and what characteristics that exportable resource would have to work for Open Arms, Utah.

A human’s life, in fact, any living animal’s life is a process of consumption. We consume food, we consume fuel, we consume clothes, and shelter, and transportation, and almost anything else that comes between our hands or into our lives. Almost every item we consume comes to us with a cost; we have to spend money to obtain that item.

In isolated communities, it is rare that the consumed items come from within the community; typically most of them are imported. This includes building materials, automobiles, bananas, bed sheets, toothbrushes, medicine, shoes, and microwaves. Every time someone pays money to buy something that is imported into that community, the money leaves the community. In the case of a Ford truck, that money might go to Kentucky, where Ford has several large assembly plants. The money, in large part, would end up in the pockets of the people that build trucks so they can export them all over the country.

Wherever the money goes, it leaves the community. In order for people within the community to continue to have money to spend, they either must work outside the community and bring the money back to the community, or they must sell things to people outside the community. In an isolated community (like Open Arms will probably be), it would be difficult for people to make the long commute to other places to work. In addition, it is typically much more difficult for convicted sex offenders to find work at all. The only option left is to find something to sell outside the community—something to export.

Pakistan exports its programming skills by seeking contracts for Pakistanis to write computer programs for American companies. Pakistan also exports its capacity to speak English. American companies can save money by locating call centers within the borders of Pakistan that answer calls from customers in America. These are both examples of high-tech exports.

To support the recovery of the residents of Open Arms from sexual addiction, the city needs a low-tech export. High tech almost always incorporates requirements for communication, and as mentioned in an earlier post, communication is a major pathway for sexual addicts to gain sexually provocative material that enables and exacerbates their addiction.

What are some examples of low-tech exports? Mined coal and other earthbound minerals, somewhat. Textiles, in part. Lime (used to make cement). Food and agricultural products, sometimes. Leather and fur. Art and most other custom or hand worked goods, usually. Lumber. Gravel. Oil and tar. Glass. Fertilizer, sod, mulch. Earthenware. Animals. If anyone sends me other low-tech imports, I’ll add them to the list. These low-tech exports often require little to no access to communication channels that would give employees in high-risk circumstances the temptation to indulge in sexual gratification.

To be really cost effective, though, the raw materials for the export should come from within or near the community. Otherwise the citizens just have to send precious money out of the community to buy raw materials.

There are a few other points to consider for this export.

The market for the export should not be seasonal. Sod experiences heavy demand during the warm months, but when the weather turns cold there is little work to do, leaving employees without an income (unless the company get unusually creative).

There should be enough demand for the export to provide work for all people within the community who need it. I don’t know what the demand for residency within this city will be, but the potential market is huge. Providing employment for 100 family units among 2000 is not nearly enough.

The purpose of the company set up to sell this export will not be to maximize shareholder returns, but to provide sufficiently compensated employment for as many people as possible while still providing a product or service that is priced competitively in the marketplace. Labor intensive processes are GOOD. Automation is BAD.

Finally, the greater the variety of available exports, the better off the community is. There are quite a few reasons for this, including shifts in market demand, regulation changes, unavoidable seasonality, and more employment opportunities to name a few.

So, I’m in the market for a location in Utah that would provide an ample supply of potable water, and that would provide a healthy, low-tech exportable resource that the community can exploit. If anyone has any ideas, or would like to give me the land at a location they think would work, leave me a note. I’ll be checking responses on a regular basis.

Purple Saffron

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Communication: Boon or Bane?

I'm open to the possibility that not very many people think about the subject of communication and the incredible impact it has on our lives.

I'd even go so far as to consider that some people would consider this topic immaterial to any discussion either of sexual offenders or city planning. But I feel that in many ways communication plays a core role in both. Those that are familiar with city planning, I think, are familiar with the importance of communication to the plans of a city. I don't know if too many people who think about the topic of sexual offense, however, consider the role of communication in it. I'd like to address here the role of communication plays in the realm of sexual offense.

I found the definition of communication that I like most here (Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary. Retrieved October 01, 2006, from the Dictionary.com website):
  1. the act or process of transmitting information

There is a tremendous amount of provocative sexual information transmitted throughout the world today, on all levels. At the very core, and in fact in the most harmful way, Satan communicates sexual information into the very essence of our beings, our thoughts. He has the power to place sexual thoughts into our stream of consciousness. While we can reject those thoughts, no-one can prevent them. They are a source of negative influence for every living, cognizant human being on this planet.

If we begin to look at physical sources of provocative sexual information, our list begins to grow rapidly.

Without words, an incredible amount of sexually provocative information is communicated to a man when he sees a woman dressed in an alluring outfit.

With words and sounds and still and moving images and representations, we can find sexually provocative communication among family members, among friends and coworkers, in books, in magazine articles and advertisements, on radio broadcast music and programs and advertisements, on television programs and advertisements, on billboards and signs, and on the internet with web pages, advertisements, chat rooms, instant messages, and e-mail. Some of it we receive only if we seek it out. Much of it we are barraged with regardless of our intentions, in many ways due to the age old adage, "Sex sells." Sexually provocative communication motivates people to spend money to obtain products, services, memberships, even people. Even that great work, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," encourages people to use their sexual nature to influence others, even if it is in a subtle way.

If one participates in the normal everyday activities that are accepted by today's society (e.g. watching TV or movies, shopping at the store, listening to music, or even walking or driving down the street) they are overwhelmingly barraged with sexually provocative communication. In fact, such communication has become so common that many of us have come to accept it as natural, mainstream, even wholesome, as we have been influenced over time by the flood of information. Unfortunately, human nature is such that if almost every source of information we encounter says something is true, we tend to believe it.

What does sexually provocative communication provoke? Many things: sexual thoughts, sexual feelings/arousal, sexual action. When the communication we receive is saturated with sexuality, is it any wonder that our thoughts, our desires, our choices, our actions become saturated with sexuality? It all culminates, sooner or later, in sexual actions.

Here's the conundrum. Acceptable sex requires the accommodation of two consenting adults. What happens when one accommodating adult cannot find another accommodating adult, or has desires for someone that is not an accommodating adult? They have two choices: Abstain, or engage someone that is not an accommodating adult. The question is, what does the communication that shapes our perceptions encourage? Abstention or gratification?

With a personae shaped over years and years of invited and uninvited sexually provocative communication focused on gratification, the tendency for gratification for many people overwhelms their scruples, and they engage someone who is not an accommodating adult. They pursue unacceptable sex as a sexual predator, in success they engage in unacceptable sex as a sexual offender.

Is it possible to overcome sexual addiction while remaining subject to sexually provocative communication and its influences?

Because I feel it is not, my vision of Open Arms, Utah incorporates opportunities for citizens to cut themselves off from communication. Almost all communication. Because with each additional source of information the risk of encountering sexually provocative information increases dramatically. And with that risk comes the risk of the domino effect leading to sexual action and the associated sexual offense.

Purple Saffron

Note: Everything written here about sexually provocative communication is also true of violently provocative information.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Open Arms, Utah: Concept Conception


I was significantly moved today, and circumstances led me to create this blog (If you're interested in the details, you can find them below). Please forgive my stream of consciousness writing. This matter is an intensely emotional one for me, and I am using this blog, in part, to sort out my own feelings and beliefs on the matter.

This blog is centered on compassion/empathy based thinking in regards to sexual offenders and those whose circumstances are similar to them. I recognize that this particular point of view is incredibly unpopular. Many of these people have caused immeasurable suffering for innocent people, and it is easy to empathize with the victims and seek for vengeance on the perpetrators of such horrible crimes. I agree that these people deserve punishment commensurate with their crimes.

Unfortunately what I feel we have done through the current trend of legislation is not only punish them, but ostracize them and set them on a lifelong path of ridicule and intense suffering (reminiscent of The Scarlet Letter). From this ridicule and intense suffering they have no opportunity for relief, regardless of the scale of their offense, or whether they have changed. The victims have countless champions for their cause; as I said it is a popular one. But in many cases, the perpetrators have become victims, and there is no-one to champion their cause. This is why I feel compelled to voice this point of view.

At the core of this blog is an understanding of the rejection and ostracism that these people experience, and a desire to provide for them an opportunity to live in a place where they feel welcome and loved. This understanding finds its expression in my vision of a new city in Utah called Open Arms, a designed community engineered to provide a place for sexual offenders to live where they are not constantly exposed to rejection and ostracism.

I also plan to consider the Christian viewpoint that addicts can change and find relief from their addictions through Christ, and whether it would be worthwhile to make such change (and the support it requires) an intrinsic part of the city of Open Arms. I strongly believe that sexual addiction plays a core role in many perpetrators' lives. In this visionary city of Open Arms I see an opportunity to provide the support that can make such a difference in the success rate of change in these people's lives.

I'd like to share with you the event that prompted me to create this blog:

I read a letter today that made me very sad. I'd like to share it with you (I will attempt to replicate it as accurately as possible, including flaws):


JESSICA'S LAW

Dear Editor:

It is high time we the public, not ask but Demand that legislation be passed to protect our children from sexual predators. Our state has known and dragged its feet in passing Jessica's Law in Utah, year after year they (our state government) promise to pass some sort of Law unknown to the public but never have. When Mark Lunsford came to Utah he was totally ignored by our government and our media gave very little information when he did arrive. Utah is standing still. Do not vote for anyone that will not support Jessica's Law in Utah.

Jessica's Law will (1) Increase the penalty for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child to life in prison or a split sentence of a mandatory minimum 25-year prison term, followed by lifetime supervision with electronic monitoring. (2) Increase, from 20 to 30 years, the period of time before a sexual predator is allowed to petition to have the sexual predator designation removed. (3)Increase sexual predator/offender registration and reporting requirements. (4) Sexual predators who murder their victims now qualify for the death penalty in capital cases. (5) Designate ailing to re-register as a sexual offender/predator or harboring or assisting a sexual predator/offender a third degree felony. (6) Require those already convicted of sex crimes to have electronic monitoring for the remainder of their probation (I would say life). (7)Require all county misdemeanor probations officials to search the sexual offender registry when a new offender is assigned to them. I f we don't act fast we will have sexual predators/offenders running (which they already are) to live in Utah. Start a petition drive for signatures. Let our leaders know how much we love our children in Utah. Our children can't vote they remain vulnerable, they have been for years and years. Please help our children in Utah.

XXXX XXXX Orem Utah

The woman that gave this to me said she sent this to the editor at the local newspaper. The whole thing made me very sad. I was going to send a reply to the newspaper editor, but I was afraid. I was afraid there would be repercussions against me and my family. So, admitting I am taking on a profile of cowardice, I am posting my reply anonymously here.

Dear Editor,

Please understand that my words are in no way intended to minimize or detract from the incredible pain and suffering on all levels caused by sexual offenders and predators, nor the danger that these people can often create for a community.

I was disappointed and dismayed at the letter, "Jessica's Law", that was sent in recently from a resident of Orem. While I understand her outrage, I feel that the position she has taken will only serve to perpetuate the problem (opens in a popup), not alleviate it. In addition, her words reveal an incredible level of callousness in the midst of a strong LDS community that is typically characterized by love, empathy, and compassion.

While the basic, natural human response to violation is vengance, the greater Christian response takes a much higher road. Throughout the LDS doctrine are references to the command that we love all men and women regardless of who they are, what they have done, or who they have hurt. In fact, such personal violation presses upon us a greater burden to reach out to them in a way we would not do to someone who has not hurt us:

Matt 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

It seems that these sexual offenders have been rebuffed from every community they are a part of. They have no one who loves them. What a horrible state to be in. What an incredible obstacle to those who desire to change and overcome their addictions.

I can't think of a better place than Utah for these people. A community filled with compassionate and loving people wholeheartedly and enthusiastically dedicated to helping others become better, become more than who they were, become who God intended them to be. A community that understands the critical role of Christ in success at overcoming any addiction. Where else can these people find such a wealth of support and love to draw from in their pursuit of recovery, in their attempts to become valuable, contributing members of society.

Let us show Open Arms to these people and welcome them into our community. Let us overwhelm them with love, with support, and with a willingness to become their foundation of confidence as they strive to improve and realize a new life of purity and integrity. As we seek to do so, I feel that those who wish to remain dangerous and hidden will leave, while those who desire to change will do so, and our community will be seen as contributing a powerful impact for good on this world, as we as Christians are called to do.

I'll be upfront and direct. My desire in publishing this blog is to attract enough attention and resources to this vision of Open Arms, Utah to bring it into reality. My intention is to treat any topic that will support the creation of this new city, from banal topics such as city planning, utilities and economic development, to core Christian principles such as the atonement of Jesus Christ and the divinity of mankind, to rare topics such as the economics of carnal gratification.

I welcome all comments. I reserve the right to segregate comments that do not show respect into their own category to preserve an atmosphere of welcome-ness for all.

Purple Saffron