Letters to the Editor

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SCC: What about the prisoners’ rights?

Letter by Edith Chan, Seattle on Nov. 30, 2011 at 11:32 am with 20 Comments »
November 30, 2011 11:32 am

Re: “Budget cuts may bring sex offenders to mainland” (TNT, 11-27).

The article was about possibly moving the Special Commitment Center from McNeil Island to the mainland.

My problem with this article is not the move itself, but the fact that you describe the prisoners as  “those deemed so dangerous the courts have confined them even though their prison sentences are over.”

What happened to the prisoners’ rights? If their prison sentences is over, then why are they still being confined? What happened to rehabilitation? Are we just locking people up now and throwing away the key without even trying to rehabilitate them and committing them without thinking about their basic right of freedom?

People assume that sex offenders are beyond help, but really what they need most is rehabilitation and a chance to be integrated back into society. When did prisons become a dumping ground for sex offenders?

What we need if we are to close the McNeil Island SCC is the creation of a program that focuses on rehabilitation and treatment for convicted sex offenders. If we want to make up the deficit of the budget, then why are we not focusing on rehabilitation, which has been proven time and time again will lower the lifetime cost of a felon because of the lower recidivism rate once the offenders has been in treatment?

Prison is not and should never be a dumping ground for our most violent offenders. We need to focus on treatment for prisoners.

Leave a comment Comments → 20
  1. BlaineCGarver says:

    They are lucky that they were allowed to live.

  2. cclngthr says:

    Sex offenders ARE beyond help. My older brother, who (now deceased) was one. I never allowed him around. He did not figure that one out. I also had to inform my supervisor at the school where I worked one year he was coming to the school and had a sex offense conviction. I had no choice in that matter.

  3. Fibonacci says:

    Edith
    You poor dear. Yes, in this case we are throwing away the key. Unfortuately, there ARE some that CANNOT be redeemed. Would you want Ted Bundy living next to you (if here were still alive). Many of those offenders will admit that if they get out they WILL offend again. I will take societies right to be free from sexaul assault over the offenders right to go out and hurt someone.

  4. falkoja6 says:

    If you have a bad wisdom tooth it’s extracted, if your appendix is inflamed it’s removed, if you have a tumor it is removed without any hesitation. Release sex offenders??? Castrate them first to protect society, then release. Why is that so difficult to understand…

  5. itwasntmethistime says:

    Sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated. I invite Edith to try, as long as she keeps them in her own home under lock and key.

  6. slugoxyz says:

    Sorry Edith. They are correct. Sex offenders (SO) cannot normally be rehabilitated. In some incidences, extensive therapy can affect their trigger (whatever sets them off). Sometimes, the SO either resists this or is simply unable to stop their behavior. These offenders were placed on McNeil Island even after their sentence was up. So, yes. In essence, they were locked away for their and our own safety.

    When did prisons become a dumping ground for sex offenders? Uhhh… The answer to crimes of a sexual nature is incarceration. That’s a little like saying “since when did prisons become a dumping ground for murderers?” You want YET another program? Oh Edith. We have programs. We have programs on top of programs. Ever wonder why the DOC is broke? Programs. Do you know what recidivism rates are in this area? Studies have been done placing it as high as 88% so you want another program to put sex offenders out on the street when they are “likely to re-offend”?

    Your final sentence says that “prison is not and should never be a dumping ground for our most violent offenders.” Edith? What do you think prison is for? It’s not a motel. It is… Oh yeah. It’s a dumping ground for our most violent offenders and those that have been and remain a threat to society. Edith. We dump these people in prison and keep them there because we’re too sheepish to simply kill them. Sorry. That seems harsh but Edith? That is exactly what prison is for.

  7. old_benjamin says:

    Edith, you sound like a social worker who can’t find a job. Remember Jamie Biendl? She was killed earlier this year by a repeat sex offender at the Monroe Correctional Complex. He had three previous rape convictions. If he had been kept locked up, as he should have been, Jamie would still be alive. What about her rights?

  8. There are too many bleeding heart liberals around that believe after the sex offenders serve their small sentence,they are cured and will no longer be a threat to society.I believe that almost everyone knows this is not a possibility as that has been proven over and over again.I feel that anyone that believes the prisoners should be set free should be required to house these criminals until the criminals show why they were locked up in the first case.That would open up some eyes.

  9. They serve their time as prescribed, but remember, the state can confine anyone, ex-prisoner or not, for mental reasons. Unfortunately, sex offenders will always be. The ones that are free must report where they live, and their names and faces appear in the paper. These are the ones that the state thinks that, while they’re not right upstairs, probably won’t offend again. An analogy is an alcoholic, who fights inner demons day by day staying on the wagon. The ones that aren’t free are like the guys who don’t have the strength to stay away from the bottle, and they need to be kept away from normal society.

  10. Managing those offenders who are amenable to treatment and can be supervised intensively in the community following an appropriate term of incarceration can serve to prevent future victimization while saving taxpayers substantial imprisonment costs. What I am suggesting here is not to let these offenders run loose in the community. But I do believe that if they are receiving treatment in prison, as well as once they are out of custody, and they are supervised, the cost for each offenders can be almost half the cost versus incarceration.

    I just feel that with every offender, there are almost always mitigating circumstances that needs to be looked at before decided on locking them up for an indefinite amount of time. Working with juvenile sex offenders, I am just seeing how youth can be changed with the right amount of treatment and therapy. I just think that with the right combination, sex offenders can be rehabilitated.

  11. cclngthr says:

    edithc,
    Any offender has to realize that past history affects future prospects and what they can do. There are natural restrictions that are placed on people for the lifetime of that person.

    Sex offenders do not always complete required treatment. Additionally, that treatment often is questioned by people of its effectiveness. Like alcoholism and drug addiction, where an alcoholic or drug addict becomes free of that substance, there always will be cravings for that substance. Sex offenders always will be at a high risk of reoffending because the treatment is not 100% effective.

    I also question your theory which juvenile sex offenders can be changed. I don’t think they can; and they are in a position of reoffending because they are around a population that can be victims.

    I also question your theory about having juvenile offenders in a school when parents of other children are unaware of a sex offender being in their child’s class. As a teacher, there are times where I myself are not told a sex offender is in my class. I have a right to know if one is, and I also have a legal right to refuse to allow that sex offender in my class to protect other students. If my child were attending a school where a sex offender is attending, the second I found out, my child would INSTANTLY be withdrawn faster than your head would spin.

    My older brother (now dead) is a sex offender, and I had to be extremely careful in where I interacted with him. I could not allow him to be at my house due to rules set by the community, and also if he were to come to my work, I also had to refuse him access to that due to him being an offender (and also call the authorities due to laws that I must protect students).

    If this means indefinate lockup, so be it.

  12. I like how we pay so much attention to sex offenders with the registry (which is so large anymore its hard to tell whos bad and whos even worse) and SCC, and yet we let murderers, drug addicts, and other violent people out with a wave and goodbye.

  13. Edith, I disagree with you. In order to properly “supervise” the unrestrained sex offender that’s currently “out” of jail, but still under lock and key, you’d have to assign 1:1 supervisors / sex offenders, and that’s not realistic. There’s a reason that they’re still locked up, remember. As far as juvenile sex offenders changing with treatment, you’d be wise to think with your head and not your heart. Sex offenders in particular can be very manipulative, and folks like you, who’re often suckers for a good story, can usually be had quite easily. So often, political correctness dictates how people _want_ to think, as opposed to reality. I wonder how many people think that sex offenders can be rehabilitated, but homosexuals are hard coded, and can’t change?

  14. itwasntmethistime says:

    Edith, those kids are working you. Wise up.

  15. lovethemountains says:

    Oh, Edith, Edith, Edith. What world do you live in?

  16. harleyrider1 says:

    Sex offenders continue to offend. It is a psychological (mental) behavior that is not treatable. They are born different. They didn’t become this way because Aunt Sally slapped them when they were 5-yrs old. Chemical and physical castration were tried and it did not end the urges for rapists to attack others. There simply is no answer. The law, which was the first of its kind in the Nation, was upheld by the state Supreme Court – one of the most liberal in the Nation. Several other states have followed ours.

    People that believe this commitment is wrong, should open up their homes and families to the level I and II offenders (those just getting started). Welcome what they do to your family. Live your life as a shining example to your belief. But don’t tell the rest of society what to do. You won’t though. You know they are too dangerous to let your wife, daughter, or small child be left alone with them. If I’m wrong, Edith, place a small ad in the Tribune inviting them to live with you.

    I don’t fear them. I loath them. I have hunted them after they have devastated families.

  17. hansgruber says:

    Edith, you need to read about the SCC. It’s all you have asked for in your letter. Get up to speed.

  18. cclngthr says:

    harleyrider1,
    I somewhat disagree with you about sex offenders “becoming that way”… Many sex offenders were themselves victims of sexual abuse, and treatment of that abuse was not done. Sex offenses sometimes run in families. Sex is a learned behavior.

    I do believe sex offenses should be an automatic life sentence.

  19. I agree with Edith however sex offenders don’t have rights according to the US Supreme Court. However I think this will eventually be over turned. How would you like to have fulfilled you sentence and then find out you are going to be held civilly with out due process? Should sex offenders be held to a different standards than murders? In most cases they are told a month or so before they are going to be released. What has happened to the due process guaranteed by the US constitution?

  20. stumpy567 says:

    “Prison is not and should never be a dumping ground for our most violent offenders. We need to focus on treatment for prisoners”

    You’re right Edith.
    They should be exterminated along with anyone convicted of first degree aggravated murder.
    Society would benefit and there would be more of a deterrent to this type of behavior.

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