Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Even convicted sex offenders have rights

LEXINGTON, Ky. – While most of us were celebrating during spring break, ABC’s “Nightline” broadcast a two-part special on the life of Jonathan Hawes. He is a convicted child molester who was paroled after spending five years in prison.

The issue of child molestation may not seem an integral part of a college community, but within several years, we may face the issue of a former sex offender living near us.

The report focused on the relationship between a released sex offender’s rights and Megan’s Law, which requires authorities to warn community members before a convicted sex offender moves into that community.

Even before he moved back to his mother’s home in Oregon, Hawes was ostracized by the community. To keep Hawes away from their town, neighbors collected money and bought his mother’s house out from under her. When his mother relocated to another Oregon town, she was again met by the proverbial “unwelcome wagon.”

The community members, most of whom are parents or grandparents, have some justification to their methods. Studies have found that sexual molesters are most likely to repeat their crime because of the psychological problems that control their actions. Community members think their rights and their children’s rights are being infringed upon when a former offender moves into the neighborhood.

But this attitude creates a society of NIMBYs, or “Not In My Backyard.” The man deserves a chance to get on with his life and to try and rejoin society as a productive person. He is undergoing counseling and has to check in periodically with his parole board. It’s not as if he has been released into the world with no supervision. People don’t have a problem with him, as long as they never have to deal with him.

Megan’s Law was intended to allow parents the opportunity to make sure their children are safe. It doesn’t mean the convicted sex offender has no right to live where he or she pleases. These people might be living next to thieves or con artists and not even know it. You might live next to someone with a criminal record. Do you demand to know everyone’s record who lives around you?

Sexual crimes are serious, make no mistake about it. But so is the right of an individual to live a normal life. As long as citizens act in this way, Hawes won’t be able to live a normal life.

-Staff editorial of the University of Kentucky’s Kentucky Kernel

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