By Bob Munsey . . . No matter how a person may have corrected his or her actions and paid for failures, in the state of Florida, it’s “once a felon, always a felon.” What is such a policy as this supposed to solve?
On a recent evening I listened in on a Reform Sex Offender Laws Inc. conference call about sex-offender registries, whose effectiveness increasingly is being called into question.
It has been proved that isolation and disenfranchisement only contributes to recidivism. And when evidence is not based on emotion but facts and statistics, sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rates of any felonies — despite efforts by legislators to keep them out of their homes, their families, their communities and the job market.
Don’t get me wrong: There are some offenders who are dangerous. If released to society, they need to be in a registry and monitored. But that applies only to about 10 percent of sex offenders.
Assignment to the registry should be based on the level of threat, and it should be a law-enforcement-only registry. Research shows that public notification does not have any validation; it doesn’t further public safety. In fact, the registry actually can have negative impacts, as support systems for offenders are removed.
The best defense to recidivism is reintegration into society as quickly as possible. To be a law-abiding citizen, people have to have a purpose. What purpose? Home. Family. A job. Voting rights. Freedom of movement. The consideration of constitutional rights. All of these work together to reintroduce a person back into society, to regain a purpose in life.
I am not one to “live in the shadows.” I am an ex-sex offender in a case that involved my daughter. It was more than 17 years ago, after my wife’s tragic death. I extremely regret the whole situation. It has been resolved, and she and I both have moved on with our lives.
I live in what we in the the military called a “straight-arrow life” as I contribute productively to my community, my church, and in my fellowship with my friends and neighbors — despite antiquated, ill-thought-out ordinances designed to make some politicians look “productive.”
Let’s start reviewing sex-offender laws and modify them based on facts, not emotion or “vote trolling.” After all, lawmakers represent all people.
Bob Munsey, a retired U.S. Navy captain, lives in Cocoa.
Source: The Orlando Sentinel