Former sex offender makes positive difference in others’ lives

By Sandy….

In the wake of the release of long-time incarcerated convicted sexual offender and former priest Paul Shanley, journalists are rushing to find a different angle to present the situation.

Elaine Thompson found an excellent one. 

The focus is on another convicted offender, former attorney Joel Pentlarge who, since he has been released, has done everything he could to provide housing and stability to those who have the most difficulty finding it.

Joel lives and owns rental properties in the small town of Ware, Massachusetts, and he rents to those convicted of sexual crimes. He has rented one of his homes to Mr. Shanley, but this story isn’t about Shanley. It is about one man doing all he can to help others.

It is also about the truths that people don’t want to face.

One of these is expressed by Mr. Pentlarge. “…if someone is getting out (of prison) and has a safe and secure place to live, hopefully a job, and access to appropriate services, that substantially reduces their chances of reoffending.” No one, not even the most rigid advocate of the punitive public registry, can deny this truth, yet they continue to support policies that are in direct opposition to what the facts show.

Another important truth regards the propensity, or lack thereof, of those on the registry to commit another sexual offense. Neighbors have protested the 86-year-old Shanley’s move into the neighborhood and expressed fear for their children’s safety. Police Chief Shawn Crevier, in response to this, said that “…he doesn’t recall a time when any registered sex offender living in Ware has reoffended.”

In response to being told of some of those neighbors throwing garlic on the home where Shanley moved, Pentlarge spoke more words of truth, words that resonate strongly in light of the vigilante activity that occurs daily across the nation against those on the registry and their family members. “This is a level of hysteria,” he said, “that makes you think we’re not that far removed from the witch hunts of Salem.”

In regard to concerns about housing restrictions in Massachusetts being disallowed by the state courts, Robert Prentky, a psychologist and expert in the area of sex offender treatment, was interviewed and spoke a truth now accepted by everyone with even the most superficial understanding of the subject. “As long as there are housing restrictions that are placed on sex offenders, we create more of a problem than we solve… restricting where registered sex offenders can live could do more harm than good,” he said.

He also addressed the truth of the futility of parents focusing on Shanley to protect their children, saying that this “…“isn’t remotely close to what they need to do.” He reminds us that “…the vast majority of sex offenses are committed by someone the victim knows – family members, friends and acquaintances.”

The final and arguably most important truth is found in the relationship that Mr. Pentlarge has developed with two of his former victims. There are those who say that victims of sexual assault are “damaged for life” and “can never forgive what was done to them” and that those who commit these crimes “feel no remorse” and “cannot change.”

Contrary to these popularly held beliefs, forgiveness and reunification are not only possible but also are healing for both victims and perpetrators. The journalist reports after interviewing Pentlarge, “…he is committed to not reoffending…He has apologized to his four victims…Two of them, now adults, visit regularly. He said they had court orders prohibiting contact lifted.”

No area in criminal justice is as fraught with myth and fiction as is the area of sexual crimes. Laws and policies are firmly entrenched that have no basis in fact or reality. Meaningful reform will come about in two ways; one is when courts recognize that many of these laws and policies are in fact violations of constitution protections. The other is when the myths and lies are exposed and legislation is crafted that is based on truth.




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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

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    • #18139 Reply

      I was just thinking about buying a vacant building in the town I live in and converting it into an apartment building and renting to registrants. I am glad to see others are doing that.

      • #18499 Reply

        To those who would rent to sex offenders, don’t make the rent so high that 99.9% of registrants can’t afford it.

        • #19705 Reply
          A mom

          I agree with you W.C._TN, I am trying to find my son shelter. Most are $500 and $600 a month. It is so difficult when he is released next month, he doesn’t have a job, he will have no income. Maybe the rent could be reasonable, like $300 or $400 for the first 60 days, to give them time to get on their feet. Also the shelters, are wonderful, but do not offer a quite peaceful environment. It would be so much nicer for them to have boarding rooms.

    • #18140 Reply
      Joseph olvera

      I am truly blessed to hear how these individuals are opening homes for registrants, I don’t have much but I will be glad to help any way I can.

    • #18141 Reply

      What a refreshing headline! And a beautiful story!! Thank you Sandy.

    • #18150 Reply
      Jonathon Dell Merritt

      I am a registrant who rented a room to a fellow registrant for 7 years and one other registrant for two years at the same time. Three offenders under the same roof in a quiet country subdivision.
      There was never any problem or any drama. Not once did the police ever get called to my home. On the other hand, a neighbor up the road rented out rooms but would not ever rent to a registrant.
      He said he did not want the police sent to his house. The police did however get sent to his house many times as his judgment in choosing tenants some how lacked judgment.

      • #18498 Reply

        Yes, and when the child grows up and re-enacts what was done to him, then the system that felt oh so sorry for him as a child turns on him like a rabid pit bull and destroys him. Our society is indeed full of two-faced hypocrites!! Look at Senators Mark Foley and Anthony Wiener. They were all for passing these draconian sex offender laws like the A.W.A. and all the while Foley was texting the teenage paige boys on captial hill while Wiener was sexting to underage girls.

    • #18151 Reply
      Nena Eschete

      That is so heart warming. Finally treating human beings as human beings.

      • #18205 Reply

        The laws that require treatment after incarceration are designed not as a means of rehabilitation for the offender, but as a containment strategy to keep offenders under the oppressive thumb of the state indefinitely. These laws are there to ensure offenders never have a normal, peaceful life. The mantra is “if a filthy child molester messes with a kid, it screws that kid up for life. Therefore, we’re going to ensure the molester is screwed up for life as well.” That’s what’s behind post-confinement supervision.

        Post-confinement “supervision” is all about state-sanctioned harassment and extortion. Yes, extortion. Look at the supervision fees, the G.P.S. monitoring fees, the polygraph fees, and the treatment fees. They want to keep offenders as broke and as socially disabled as possible.

        • #18266 Reply

          The mantra is “if a filthy child molester messes with a kid, it screws that kid up for life.”

          Yeah, and when the kid grows up and imitates on another child what was done to him/her as a child, the same group of nut jobs want to crucify and condemn the person for it rather that give a damn about the “long term effects” that blossomed into another offender. Our society is full of HYPOCRITES.

    • #18168 Reply
      Dominic Galliani

      Our country needs more places and people loike this. Sex offenders have such a bad stigma, and yet statistics show we have the lowest recidivism rate among any offenders, especially those of us who have gone through a program in prison. The worst part I think is if I went through a program in prison, why am I still required to go to counseling for the rest of my life? These laws are ludicrous and absurd. What is the purpose of taking a program in prison if we are still required to go to counseling? I think that anyone who is putting forth an effort to help those of us who are finding it difficult finding jobs, housing, and even places we frequent, kudos to those people. My goal now that I have been released from prison is to do my part once I an on my feet and get settled. Thank you and keep up the good work!!!!

      • #18497 Reply

        I’m truly glad you have been able to rebuild your life. I wish folks down here in the “Bible Belt” South were as open-minded. I have industry-recognized certifications in the I.T. field and graduated with honors from an I.T. course on April 21, 2017. I am a member of the National Technical Honor Society. I can’t get any employer to give me a chance. As soon as the background check comes up and I disclose that I have a felony that dates back to 2002, job offers are rescinded every single stinkin’ time!

    • #18202 Reply
      Darrel Hoffman

      You ought to hear my story if you want to know about success!!! I have a home, a nice car, and a job working for the City of Detroit, where we had a scandal with our former City Council President, who went to prison for molesting a 14-year-old boy, but yet didn’t show any prejudice towards me because of his actions. My conduct and integrity, plus the grace and favor of God Himself made the difference, so I contribute to this great city through my work. I’m also the organist at my church where I am loved and accepted by all. God is amazing in this and the Lord Jesus Christ gets all the glory for it.

    • #18203 Reply

      The reaction people have to sex offenders, particularly those who have molested children, is not so much about fear of that offender harming other children, but rather a visceral hatred of the offender because of what he or she has done and a staunch judgmental, holier-than-thou attitude that says, “You don’t deserve another chance. When you molested a child, you gave up your rights as a member of the human race and we will do whatever we can to see you stay as isolated from the rest of “respectable” society the rest of your life. In our estimation, anyone who would advocate for your rights must be the same sort of human trash as you, the molester are!”

      That is what’s behind our sex offender laws and that’s why the facts are staunchly ignored because it’s about hate and an attitude that sex offenders who target children aren’t ever entitled to forgiveness or redemption. This animus is shared by the public, the police, the district attorneys, the judges, and our legislators. The “fear for the safety of kids in the community” is the smokescreen everyone up and down the chain of command allows to mask the real animus behind our sex offender laws.

      • #18217 Reply
        Jonny everyman

        Not sure I agree with this. Maybe for some but on the site there are several “concerned parents” who post pictures whenever a new sex offender moves into the area under the guise they are “just protecting” children. I think your suggestion applies more to the politicians who enact laws seeking popularity and approval

        • #20383 Reply
          Jerry P.

          Was going to check out and registered sex offenders are not allowed on the site 😥

    • #18267 Reply

      Joel Pentlarge should be given a medal of honor from the mayor of town. This is the kind of human being any one would want as a neighbor.

    • #18274 Reply

      I am glad to see a positive article on here. Sure, if truth be known we are all carnal by nature, whether we were duped over an internet or actually touched someone in the wrong way. Its all about morals and being honest. I see the homeless all the time either begging for money out on the side of the road or freeway islands and it is a shame. I’m sure their are their for a reason begging. Helping others is the best and Godly thing one can do and we should not be heathen’s toward another with no compassion at all. If we don’t clean up this sex offender registry in some biblical way than the future doesn’t hold to much for American Liberty.
      Look at these internet things one can smell the money and greed all in the name of duping someone. Than comes man’s prejudice’s to another fellow human being and where is think of others better than yourself. Is that gone the way of Christianity…… Think about it.

    • #18453 Reply

      I am not an RSO. I’m the adoptive parent of a child who was groomed and raped prior to coming to our home. His rapist is registered as an SVP. However, I’m also a social worker currently looking for housing as part of a home plan for an SVP in prison for a technical parole violation. I know this will be a difficult task, even though I know he’d be an excellent tenant. He’s part of our church. He’s a brother-in-Christ. My role is not part of any job, just as a friend. Someday, he would like to do workshops for parents on how to protect their children from sexual predators. I wish he could be a mentor to my son, who is at risk for becoming a victim-offender. But he’s not allowed contact with minors. I’m thankful for others who provide housing. Wish there was someone in my area. Basically, I’m looking at questionable trailer parks. His previous housing, in another county, was awful and expensive. I only saw it after he was unexpectedly arrested for the parole violation, and couldn’t believe how awful it was. My daughter and I cleaned it. We had to throw our clothes away afterwards due to the presence of pests and the amount of chemicals he used to keep them under control. No one should live under those circumstances.

      • #18658 Reply
        Donnie G

        This post is likely to rub a few people wrong so here’s a little background. I’ve been a registered offender for over 25 years (pre 1990) with a single offense and no recidivism. I’ve had to “restart” my life 4 times due to public registration. I truly believe (and strongly) that registered sex offenders should be given a choice of euthanasia (by choice only) rather then live Utterly Alone, Hated, Homeless and Unemployed.

    • #19704 Reply
      A mom

      After reading the article about Mr. Pentlarge , I desperately contacted him for a shelter for my son. Unfortunately he was unable to help me at the time, partly due to the fact that my son would be restricted as to where he could live. His offense took place in another state. I commend you for what you do. Please continue to help those labeled a sex offender. Everyone deserves a second chance. They are way less dangerous to our children then the gang members that we allow to live any where they please, armed with weapons, and killing out children with drugs.
      God Bless you Mr. Pentlarge, it was a pleasure to speak with you.

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