Sunday, May 20, 2007

One Size Does Not Fit All

We talk here a lot about the poor policy, human tragedy, and waste of our needed resources based on the underlying story that all offenders are the same, all "bad guys" whom we the "good guys" should use as examples to show we're better than they are. In too many cases, those "bad guys" exist, but the examples we make don't logically stop true "bad guys," by definition. And in the meantime, the offenders who are accidents, screw-ups (think "My Name Is Earl"), and hardened but salvageable get treated in ways that ensure many more of them than necessary end up victimizing us again, and often worse.

This is particularly true in the area of sex offenders. Many of those "guys" are truly "bad" and deserve what we parcel out. But our "one size fits all" approach in this area leaves a tremendous amount of self-inflicted damage in its wake as we punish people who did something stupid, not serial. The Tulsa World today has a great story on a woman treated to the residency restrictions so popular for a single idiot thing she did when younger. As a result, she and her 16-year-old daughter could only find housing among pedophiles and rapists. Keep in mind as you read the story that OK really does treat all sex offenders, of any offense, as the same "bad guys" and only now is considering a tiered classification system that might bring relief to former offenders who find themselves in this woman's situation.

The World has a history of trying to bring some sense to state policy, unlike the state's major newspaper, and this article is clearly an effort in that regard. Read it and give them some supportive clicks. And hope that they're successful. One size does not fit all.

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