Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rights and Responsibilities

I read an interesting story in today's paper, a story that both infuriated and frightened me. Apparently a sex offender who had served all of his 10 year sentence, moved into a house inside a school zone in Newport. The city council was notified about his release, as was the police department and two schools, but the city has no authority to notify the public, in fact, if it did notify the public of this sex offenders inclusion into the population, they could open themselves to lawsuits. In fact, the city of Newport has NO RIGHTS at all when it comes to notifying their townspeople about criminals in their neighborhoods. The rules that govern sex offenders, murderers, drug dealers...are made by the state of Vermont, and therefore the state of vt, and the department of corrections are the people that are responsible for notifying towns about the release and inclusion of inmates into vermont cities and towns. and even then, they dont have to if the said criminal has completed all of his or her time. So, as in this case, if an offender completes his sentence and the sex offender programs, the department of corrections is not responsible for supervising him. Which means, no supervision from authorities, the public is unaware and unable to supervise him in their neighborhood, the schools go on, unaware of his where does the blame lie when a child gets molested or worse ?
Im sure there are sex offenders out there that are truly not a threat, a 19 year old boy who sleeps with a 14 year old girl is most likely not a threat to children, and perhaps even this man in Newport is not a "true" threat to young kids. But do we want to risk our children to find out? I dont. I don't there there are many parents out there that would be comfortable knowing there was a convicted sex offender in their midst.
I guess my biggest issue with all of this is when did the criminals rights overtake the honest citizens rights? I ran into this same thing in the school system with the bullying that went on with my son, the bully was protected by confidentiality, as is the criminal in this case. They are protected. while our children remain ignorant to a possible threat. what about their rights?
And with the local police department unable to monitor or notify who protects our children?? Who protects us? And people wonder what happens to push people over the edge and take the law into their own hands. its things like this that are destroying America. People taking their rights, but ignoring their responsibilities. If freed sex offenders are given the right to live in our communities, then it is the responsibilty of the lawmakes to make sure those communities know who is living there. And perhaps we, as towns and neighborhoods need to take more responsibilty when it comes to our kids, know where they are, make sure they are aware of things that can happen if they travel alone. Its a hard line to walk, not wanting to scare them so theyre afraid of everything, but needing them to be aware of their surroundings.
I dont know what would work to turn this around, Im tired of feeling like my rights are being stripped away one at a time, Im tired of being a "good" citizen and watching people like this sex offender have their rights count more than mine. There was a time when criminals were treated as such, if they broke the law, they had no rights. I don't think thats such a bad thing.


Holly said...

I agree. It is scary knowing that a sex offender could be living anywhere-next door, in the school zone etc...don't they have to register themselves? I was thinking there was a website where you could go to see where all the sex offenders lived because they needed to register themselves...I'm not sure if this applies here or not. I've run into this complaint quite a bit acutally-in fact, not too long ago there was story on the news that was very similar. I think you should send your letter to our representitive(s)or to the editor. Not that it would definitely make a difference, but if enough people speak up maybe something will change.
There are so many things in this World that are not the way it should be, it's easy to get discouraged when you start thinking of all these things-trust me, working in healthcare, there are so many things that need fixing! We just have to live the way we feel is right and teach our children to be good people and pass on these good things. We can't change the World unfortunately, but at least we can be good citizens and stand up for what we believe in and teach our children to do the same.

Stace said...

there is a sex offender website. the rules governing it are interesting. What they should be listing on the site is how old and what sex the person was that was assulted. "sexual assult" and "lewd and lavicious behavior" doesnt tell a person if their 5 year old boy is in danger. And Id also be interested in knowing what a "sex offender rehabilition program" consists of and what they consider a success. This kind of stuff just makes me cranky because of personal experiences...and I honestly feel that if someone touches a child in an inappropriate way they should be severely punished...not treated for an illness. JMPO though.