Tips from Texas Voices
Differentiation: Education is the Key
There is a huge difference between stealing a candy bar from the local convenience store and robbing a bank. Both crimes are considered theft. Both are DIFFERENTIATED by law. Not so for sex offenses. Until the general public is able to DIFFERENTIATE the facts, legislators and public officials will continue to introduce “feel good” laws affecting no-risk/ low-risk sex offenders and their families. Unfortunately, facts are seldom revealed by the media, resulting in a lack of understanding concerning public opinion. Actually, many who promote and enforce “tough on sex offender” legislation seldom conduct the research necessary to justify their actions. Texas Voices group members unanimously support and recognize the need for educating the public. Therefore, our members offer the following “education” suggestions with the hope of helping individuals and groups reform sex offender laws.
- Contact college/university law professors: Ask for the opportunity to be a “guest speaker” in one of their classes. Discuss current sex offender laws, restrictions, conditions, and civil rights issues. Most colleges/ universities list “Faculty Profiles” on their website. Choose a professor who specializes in criminal law, constitutional theory, civil rights, etc. It will be important to listen to those who agree with your own personal beliefs as well as those who do not! Opposition will always be a factor. We must be willing to listen and learn why our opinions are opposed. This will enable us to provide reasonable, realistic, statistical, and factual responses in the future.
- Speak with your local church minister, priest, etc: Several of our members have found a tremendous amount of support within their religious communities. Apparently, many clergy members are not aware of the probation/parole condition that prohibits offenders from attending worship services without prior permission from probation/parole officers and treatment providers. One such minister has offered to assist in regards to educating his congregation.
- Tell your story: Public opinion depends on our ability to share. Texas Voices members have put forth a tremendous effort to educate others. For instance, http://ChangingTheLaw.com has received many encouraging responses and gained a substantial amount of support for our cause. Other members, even those who prefer to remain anonymous, have found several outlets for sharing their stories as well.
- Write or e-mail your legislators: One basic letter can be sent to many. (Change the heading and send, send, send!) Keep in mind, letters with angry overtones are less likely to be considered. The first sentence of your letter should encourage further reading.
- Write or e-mail your local newspaper: Address a specific issue, e.g., residency restrictions, unnecessary probation/parole conditions, recidivism rates, teen offenders, or any issue relating to your specific situation. Or simply tell your story in hopes of reaching others who may not realize the injustice that exists under the current laws as structured.
- Educate yourself!: It is vital for all who are fighting for change to know the facts. We cannot effectively educate others until we, ourselves, are knowledgeable and passionate about our cause. FACTS will carry us forward.
Mary Sue Molnar of Texas Voices