Connecticut, for some reason I have not yet uncovered, has thus far been immune to the sex offender hysteria that has gripped our nation for well over a decade now. Sure, we have mandatory minimums and calls to classify sex offenders on the same level as murderers, but the legislature, in an exemplary show of good sense, has resisted the urge to enact residency restrictions and has now twice rebuffed the implementation of the horrid Adam Walsh Act.
But, as I wrote back in December, the State hasn’t taken any positive steps either. There’s still nowhere for sex offenders who need treatment to get it. And if the residents of Montville, CT have their way, there won’t be anywhere for a while.
Montville, already home to two correctional facilities, was identified by the State as the prime location for a sex offender residential treatment facility, with an allocation of 24 beds. Frankly, 24 beds is nothing. Me and the 5 other attorneys in my office could come up with a list of 24 people before you finish reading this sentence, never mind the 100 other attorneys in the public defender system and their clients from just this year alone. But it’s a start and we have to start somewhere.
Yet, just like there are peas in a pod and two of a kind and how Garfunkel needed Simon, “sex offender treatment facility” seems incomplete without “not in my town”. And that’s exactly what the residents of Montville are arguing. Today, the town committee voted to seek an injunction to block the building of said treatment facility.
The state Department of Correction plans to create a 24-bed facility at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center for sex offenders about to be released from prison and those who have already been released. Creation of a residential sex offender program was part of a 2008 criminal justice reform law passed after the 2007 Cheshire home invasion.
Oh wait, this facility was to be created at the two jails that already exist in your little town? Perhaps they don’t realize these are the very jails that these sex offenders come from. It’s like moving them from one wing of the jail to another. But then again, it’s called hysteria for a reason…
In all the objections to constructing treatment facilities or the arguments in support of residency restrictions, I haven’t heard a single legitimate reason for excluding these from a particular locality or any justification that acknowledges the realities of banishing an entire group of people. Folks, “not in my town” isn’t a reason, it’s a position. You should explain, logically, why.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the town committee also voted to set a public hearing to consider an ordinance that would create a “sex offender free zone”. Montville isn’t the only town considering such an ordinance in CT. Greenwich, that bastion of purity and wholesome values and more BMWs than all the dealerships in the state combined, is also considering such an ordinance to ban its five (count ’em – 5) sex offenders from places that are “frequented” by children.
Yet it is town officials in Greenwich who have been debating since February whether to approve an ordinance that would prohibit sex offenders from being near schools, parks, playgrounds and other places children congregate. The ordinance would not limit where sex offenders can live, as similar laws in other states do, but it would impose a $100 fine on a registered offender caught in the wrong place for a second time.
After unanimous approval by the Board of Selectmen, the measure moved on to the Representative Town Meeting, the city’s 230-member legislative body, where it failed twice, most recently on Sept. 21.
The quote speaks for itself. What needs addressing, however, is the mindless repetition of what should properly be considered pure fabrication by the Republican members of the state legislature:
“Look, there is obviously an extremely delicate balance between protecting the public and the constitutional rights and freedoms of individuals, whether they are convicted sexual predators or not,” [State Senator McKinney] said. “The difficulty comes with the fact that this type of crime has an extraordinarily high recidivism rate, which justifies us in government taking greater steps toward protecting the public than we would with other crimes.”
As is noted in the article linked to above, and as I’ve cried myself hoarse on this blog, that’s just not true. McKinney knows that too, because he’s been on the Judiciary Committee when these residency restrictions have been proposed and he’s been given the studies that show it’s not true. But of course, acknowledging the truth doesn’t further the fearmongering agenda and so here we are. Again.
Coincidentally, and that’s how these things usually go, today’s episode of the local NPR program “Where We Live” was devoted to sex offenders in Connecticut and these “loitering ordinances”.
Here’s my question, that I wish these proponents of the Scarlet Laws would answer: do you believe that we can completely eradicate sex crimes against children? If your answer is yes, then you’re either a liar or you don’t understand anything about how crimes are committed and why. If you answer no, then I have a follow up question: What is the most effective use of resources? Police loitering around parks and schools and enforcing these possibly unconstitutional ordinances or creating facilities for offenders to reintegrate into society, in a productive manner, so as to prevent future occurrences?
The answer is clear. The only question that remains is whether you want to be honest with yourselves or lie to everyone in order to win a vote.