Is it time for "Sex Offender Island"

Posted: Aug 25, 2006 12:00 AM
Is it time for "Sex Offender Island"

Another town hall meeting in America and another community declares that no sex offender can live within 1000 feet of a school, park, bus stop, or other places where children congregate.

It’s become quite popular for local communities to establish these “predator-free” zones. From Texas to Florida, California to New York, cities and towns are wrestling with the most effective way to protect our children from these monsters.

No one is more disgusted and appalled by news reports of pedophiles attacking children than I am. Stories of convicted predators being freed only to continue attacking innocent children sicken me. There is plenty of evidence to confirm our worst fears, that these child molesters cannot stop their behavior. The recidivism rate is astonishing, often described as being as high as 80 or 90 percent.

But I wish we would stop trying to put a band-aid on the problem by thinking that forcing a sex offender to live at least 1001 feet from a school is going to solve anything.

At first glance, it sounds terrific. Let’s legislate where these people can and cannot live. After all, why would we want to let a convicted child molester live near a school, right?

But when one applies a little common sense and practicality to these restrictions, the whole concept starts to crumble like a house of cards.

First of all, these community restrictions state that a sex offender can’t live within a certain number of feet where children gather. A certain number of feet? Not even a certain number of miles, but feet? So what in the heck does 1000 feet accomplish? Are you telling me that if a sex offender lives 1001 feet away from a school, he suddenly will drop the urge to hurt any more children? What’s the magic about a thousand feet?

Furthermore, I don’t know any way that a child is going to appear in a park, or go to school, or walk to a bus stop without being transported there. The child is either going to walk to his or her destination or be driven there. In any event, going from point A to point B is going to involve a lot more than a thousand feet.

And the predators themselves are going to come and go as they please. Big deal, so a city says they can’t live within a thousand feet of a bus stop. Are they going to be allowed to go to the store? Can they walk the dog around the block? Of course they can. And will.

No, the real breakdown isn’t coming from where sex offenders reside. The problem lies with the total and complete failure of our judicial system to give these creeps the lifetime incarceration they deserve.

If a man molests a child, does he really deserve another chance? I recently saw a pedophile’s defense attorney argue that his client was guilty of “an error in judgment.” No, forgetting to pay the phone bill is an error in judgment. Raping a little girl or boy is an act that should be punished with a lifelong jail sentence or even the death penalty.

Until communities start focusing on locking these people up for good, it really won’t matter how many feet they live away from a park or school. That effort, while well-intentioned, is missing the whole point.

I don’t often agree with my wife on political or social issues, but she sure has this one figured out. Her belief is that we should create an island in the middle of the ocean for convicted sex offenders. She thinks we need to totally and completely isolate them from children. Clearly, this concept of a “sex offender island” would definitely do that. If a person is convicted of a sex crime involving a child, they get sent to “Sex Offender Island.” Let them have their own community – give them a movie theatre on the island, a shopping mall, houses, apartments – but make sure it’s an environment where absolutely no children are allowed and there is no getting off the island.

I’m sure my wife’s concept of “Sex Offender Island” is too over-the-top. But heck, it makes more sense than requiring a predator to live a thousand feet away from a bus stop.