How one lawyer proves her faith in criminal rehabilitation

By Sandy . . . Any criminal justice system has two purposes. The first is to punish those who have broken the law. The second is to bring about rehabilitation in the lawbreaker so that he will turn his back on a life of crime and embrace a law-abiding life in society.

The first is accomplished largely within the closed ranks of the legal system, through courts, convictions, punishments, and time served, either behind bars or under community supervision.

The second can only take place within the broader system of society and the community.

When it comes to those whose convictions have been for a sexual crime, why are we so good at accomplishing the former and so lacking in bringing about the later?

Our society has been conditioned to regard those who have committed a sexual crime as irredeemable. This is largely, if not totally, due to the proliferation of public sex offender registries. There is something about putting one’s name on such a registry that sets them aside and marks them as belonging outside – outside of redemption, outside of consideration, outside of civilized society.

But they are not. The vast, vast majority of registered sexual offenders living in the community are law-abiding, decent human beings. They are no more a threat to their fellow citizens than those citizens are to each other. Yet even when this is shown by decades of their living law-abiding, productive lives, and in spite of decades of evidence attesting to it, the prejudice against our registered citizens is overwhelming.

A political candidate or legislator who dares to support legislation that is based solidly on research but is seen to “make life easier” for sexual offenders does so at the risk of being pilloried by his or her opponent, even when such legislation is clearly shown to make society safer.

A political candidate who dares to employ a person listed on a sexual offense registry risks the same.

Chantal Eldridge, a challenger for the judicial seat in the 331st District Court in Travis County, in 2016 hired a person as her legal assistant. She is so satisfied with his work ethic and job performance that she intends to keep him as her judicial assistant if her bid for the seat is successful.

Thirty years ago he had a conviction for a sexual offense and remains on Texas’ sex offender registry. Ms. Eldridge believes that refusing employment to a past felon would run counter to her faith in criminal justice rehabilitation. Believing as she does, she feels that if she were not willing to offer an ex-felon a second chance, an opportunity to show he was rehabilitated, then she would be a hypocrite.

This is a stance that requires courage, integrity, and commitment. These are qualities that are desirable for every person. They are especially to be valued in those we elect as our public officials.

Rather than condemning Ms. Eldridge for her faith in the system she has sworn to uphold and for having the courage to stand by her convictions, we need to closely examine the motives of those who attack her for that faith and that courage.

Rozek, of Houston, is with the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws.

Published in Austin Statesman February 25, 2018

Also see Candidate for judgeship defends choice of SO assistant

 

 

 

 

 

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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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    • #35977 Reply
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      Kendal

      Our justice system has nothing to do with rehabilitation any more. They are simply punitive. This is not only for sex offenders but everyone that gets caught up in the system.

      I both love and hate this story. I love it because there is someone out there that sees a sex offender for what he really is, and is willing to give him a new chance at life. I hate it because it is just one person. What about the other 899,999 of us. Where is our person to give us that chance.

    • #35978 Reply
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      Donna

      As the mother of a registered offender I am sure there will be those who question how factual any statement I make is regarding my son. However, he is a good person. He will help you out, is big hearted and good. He is a good worker and was a loving father. But the fact that he has made a mistake which he has paid for will forever be out there for his neighbors, family members and fellow workers to see. I think Chantel Eldridge is a good, decent human being who is willing to put the position she is running for on the line. We don’t see too many people with this kind of integrity. I pray she will be elected. She is just the type of public official we all need. Good luck Ms Eldridge.

    • #35981 Reply
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      James Godsey

      Sex offender registration is a forced contract with the State. In most cases the defendant has no idea that he must register until he or she is being released from prison.

      In most cases the defendant does not have to be arrested because legislature has given the discretionary right to the State Police to arrest or apply administrative rules to extend registration by 10 additional years.

      A good lawyer should seek to have charges dropped when their client is in compliance. The law violates pain and penalty of law or disproportionate penalties. There is a lot more to say but that is for another day. Thank you!

      • #36110 Reply
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        Kendal

        How can a person have an idea that they will have to register if there was no such thing as a sex offender registry when they were convicted?

        (This was not a comment to the poster, as much as a general observation)

    • #35984 Reply
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      Sue Wearethepeople

      I love this Lady! Thank you for giving an ex-felon a chance. I just pray everyday, that this will happen in everyone’s faith.

    • #35991 Reply
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      TS

      Read the comments on the newspaper’s website. Voices are heard when they articulate in return counterarguments to the typical hysteria displayed by one person. Quite interesting.

      • #36000 Reply
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        gonzo

        I took you advice and read the comments. You are right, quite interesting indeed. In particular this comment struck me, “Do they (victims) get to just forget about it and start over and go on with thier lives after something so horrible has happened to them? I don’t see how everyone can defend these sort of people, people who would do something like that to a child.”

        To just forget? As though offenders simply go from point A to point B without consequence is juvenile thinking. Not excusing or negating actions of the offender, simply recognizing that a large number undergo extreme life altering events ranging from court proceedings, alienation from both friends & family, loss of income, living restrictions, public registration, etc. My point, offenders don’t just forget and move on. Second, the notion that all offenses involve children shows ignorance, leading to labeling a;ll offenders as pedophiles.

        Finally, any offender that has not repented, has not learned from their experience, has not committed to never offending again, then I say you should never be released. Then there is NO need for a registry. But let the rest move forward and have life, liberty, and ability to pursue happiness.

        • #36453 Reply
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          Tyrus Young

          The comment you quote is the epitome of the stupidity of the general populace. She assumes that (1) the person was horrible, and (2) children were the victims. Oh were it so that only demented, evil persons be subjected to the registry and ONLY if their victims were children.

          She, and many like her, have no clue who is on the registry or the vast range of crimes that can land you there. That my friends, is sex abuse.

    • #35999 Reply
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      linda shedlock

      Keep up the good work !!! People will follow as they learn the true facts . The more the facts come out the better things will get . Some people will not change yet others will . We all want our children to be safe . Not everyone who has to register has committed an actual contact crime . There is a big difference . Good luck!

    • #36001 Reply
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      Brian

      We need more people not afraid to do things like this lady has done for her employee, these politicians are to scared and trying to get to the top and stay there as long as they can to rack up cash and get rich while throwing as many registered citizens under the bus as they can and put as many restrictions on us as illegally possible, it’s about time for someone to stand up for us. MalloryPark Is a perfect example of how disgustingly ignorant our society is about registered citizens, who would of thought that we’re just like them, who would think we’re allowed to raise kids and a family, own a car, home or even a business….

    • #36011 Reply
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      Saddles

      Sticks and stones can breck my bones but manes will never hurt me. I like linda’s answer – True Facts Now what if I started calling every woman a b****? – Why. Sandy you’ve have asked a million dollar queation. I suppose their is always going to be a why question. To me why is like probing in a way. such as why are you doing this and why are you doing that. Nobody is a human robot or programed like others. Would one want to be like some would like those under this sex offender law to be? And all this time I thought we were all off to see the wizzard looking for a brain. Questions such as why do we want to go to the moon. Why do we want to shoot someone.

      A why question has two answer. Either one doesnt’ think they are good enough to stand up by themselves or that they think they are better than the other because they didn’t geet drunk, come home drunk stole something. and so forth.
      In these sex ordeals it is a question of why? Why would people overthrow another? Why do people purchase guns or look at porno or even look think they are better than someone else.. Man in his or her human wisdom has always wanted to throw down on other. Its the conquor and divide theory, its part of human nature. Why do we all argue with each other. Sure they can tell you its for public safety but in reality thats man’s or police and governments way of justifying themselves and keeping the america public controlled by this. Are we not all carnal by nature?

      Hey my school days are gone and I never took a psychology course if I remember that far back. Sometimes one could say a lot of this “why” is bull @hit but its standing up for the truth is whatreally counts or standing up for that other person. Should others they say why me when this could be me. Can you all say why me for being stupid and getting on the internet or doing a hoochie couchie dance with some teenager because that person is inducing this opportunity to trap you with this devlish device. Man has always wanted to control man. Even thinking that that one blew it and the whole world is coming down on them. Folks stand up for justice and truth.

      Just like a prison door, it opens and closes the same way and thats reality does and when one’s mind shuts off to that reality than were is caring come in. So if anyone wants to give up on oneself than no one’s to blame but yourself. If the good Lord can give second and third chances than I’m sure each one of you all can say redress of grivance and take this negative experience and make it a positive opportunity and speak up about all this in todays society.

    • #36777 Reply
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      Saddles

      Now if I can get all my writing underhand and learn to proof read some of my comments I would have to say this lady is right about rehabilitation. I have to give this lady true merit for hiring a past sex offender and giving one a chance to get back some self worth and to enjoy the liberty that we seek under this blanket of sex registry that seems wrong in a lot of ways.
      While I can’t understand some of this sex offender internet ordeal such as having to have a chaperone to attend church or being discriminated from just getting a job to help him or her to gain some means of support I have to stand up for this lady and for those that want to help others.
      Yes faith in helping others when they are down is a God send. While we all still have a long road to go this is an inspiring article of one lady’s faith shine’s thru to help others… this should inspire others to help others when they are down in any situation as it appears the law at times takes advantage of others.

      • #36784 Reply
        Sandy Rozek
        Sandy Rozek
        Admin

        And what is even better is that she won the election.

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