PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT FOR SEX OFFENDERS IN THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Following is an editorial comment my husband wrote to the Eastern Oregonian Newspaper. They refused to print it.
The article about sex offenders on the front page of the East Oregonian, "Don't You Be My Neighbor", August 21, was well written and timely, although it raises more questions than it answers.
The underlying theme of this article appears to suggest that some sexual offenders are not dangerous and that most benefit from treatment. This simply is not true, contrary to what David Fidanque, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon who was quoted extensively throughout the article, would have you believe.
The Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) was established by the Oregon legislature with the mandate to protect the public from convicted violent felons. A progression of this mandate resulted in the formation of another useless level of bureaucracy- the Oregon State Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision (OSBPPS) agency.
Unfortunately, as occurs with many well-intentioned endeavors, once a corporation becomes a major governmental entity, its focus inexorably shifts from its original mission statement to that of merely ensuring its continued survival and all other considerations are relegated to secondary status.
Considering that ODOC incurs a whopping 95% recidivism (failure) rate over a five-year period, quite obviously it is not "correcting" anything, a fact which indicates its original intent to protect the public has become secondary to its newly adopted primary purpose of survival.
David Fidanque cites an example of a sex offender who should not, in his opinion, be considered a danger to the public. Regarding the sex offender whose crime was to engage in consensual sex with a boy- or girlfriend who is a minor, Fidanque opines, "These offenders just want to get on with their lives... Many have successfully completed treatment and the public shouldn't be threatened by them."
Fidanque's disingenuous assertion that " some of these [sex] offenders... have successfully completed treatment, and the public shouldn't be threatened by them" is false and misleading.
First, any criminal act is a crime, period. Those sex offenders who are willing to disobey the law governing prohibited sex with a minor have stated by their actions that they believe they're above the law and are willing to violate it whenever they choose. By definition, their willingness to do so constitutes a clear and present danger to society.
Second, most studies indicate sexual offenders cannot be "cured" of their bizarre predilection toward sexual domination. Any person endowed with a modicum of intelligence can reach their own conclusion that it is ludicrous for a professional person to advance such statements in that face of the many studies, which disavow Fidanque's opinion.
Fidanque would have us believe society "shouldn't be threatened" by someone who has decided to disregard those parameters, which were enacted to protect the public. Utilizing that particular logic of the "Fidanque Doctrine", any person who chooses to violate the law can simply argue that society shouldn't be concerned with his dangerous behaviors.
Why has Fidanque attempted to rationalize, minimize, and justify a sexual offender's incurable behavior which is emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually devastating to an innocent woman or child, behavior which by its very definition is as dangerous to society as any behavior can possibly become?
What makes a sex offender any less reprehensible than an arsonist or robber? A robber can at least be taught that it is wrong to steal. An arsonist can at least be taught the error of his thought paradigms.
But a sex offender, no matter how hard he tries, cannot be taught to control those primal urges roiling through his loins. Granted, he might be able to put those thoughts from his mind for a few minutes at a time. He might even be able to postpone acting on his impulses. Sooner or later, however, like a smoldering volcano, statistically, he is going to explode. Whose angelic child will become his next victim? Whose loving wife or mother will be the next to suffer and die?
Mark Royal, director of Umatilla and Morrow County Community Corrections, states, "If we have an individual who we feel is a public safety issue... I will do a community notification... "
Royal represents the last level of protection in the ODOC's mandate to protect the public. The first level of public safety begins with the Oregon State Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision agency, which is chaired by Michael Washington, an attorney. Before any sex offender can be released from custody it is Washington's sole responsibility to ensure his agency is not releasing any dangerous individuals unto and into the public domain.
Since most major studies have determined that a sex offender cannot be cured, since a relatively recent study conducted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune has shown that sex offenders actually become more dangerous after receiving sex offender treatment, and since statistics show sex offenders sooner or later will commit another sexual assault after their release from custody, it should be of grave concern to the public-at-large that Washington is failing miserably in performing his duties as Chairperson of the OSBPPS agency.
Astoundingly, Max Williams, director of the Oregon Department of Corrections, has recently renewed Washington's contract as Chairperson of the OSBPPS agency for another four-year term. Does this make any sense to you as an intelligent, rational human being?
Still, the unsuspecting public continues to allow the Governor's office to funnel more and more taxpayers' dollars into the insatiable, inefficacious maw of the Oregon Department of Corrections.
There is a saying in treatment circles: "Insanity is performing the same action over and over again, and expecting to achieve different results." The Minneapolis Star Tribune's study that shows sex offenders become even more dangerous after they have "successfully completed treatment" is a prime example of insanity in action, as are the actions of our elected officials.
Consider the following: the people we have elected to operate our government statewide have decided to drastically cut or eliminate funding to all self-help improvement programs throughout the Oregon penal system, with the solitary exception of funding for sex offender treatment programs.
It is time to put a stop to this insanity. Stop funding those programs and instead reinstate funding for those programs, which have proven to be up to 80% effective in combating recidivism, post-secondary college education (PSCE) courses. Educating someone is the most effective weapon against crime, and treating sex offenders only makes them more dangerous. It does not make sense to eliminate the one venue that works while funding the program that doesn't. We need to get a clue- sex offender treatment programs do not make the public safer. In fact, they make the sex offender much more dangerous.
But, do not tell that to Michael Washington, the sex offenders' champion. He steadfastly refuses to label any sex offender as "dangerous", although he possesses the authority to do so, and he continues unabated to order the parole release of seriously dangerous sex offenders at an alarming rate. Like Fidanque, Washington apparently believes sex offenders aren't dangerous to the public and that it is good company policy to release any who appear before the OSBPPS agency.
In light of the prevailing trend set by Washington in releasing violent sex offenders onto the public, it appears the OSBPPS agency is pursuing an agenda which is counterproductive to the well being of society and which is intended solely to create an erroneous perception that all felons should be categorized in much the same genre as sex offenders.
Not only is this perception inapplicable to thousands of individuals who have committed a property crime or a non-morals crime during an unthinking moment, that perception speaks eloquently against the politician's and prisoncrat's contention that a parole system and parole board are essential elements in a progressive and forward-thinking society. If all criminals are alike, there is no need for an over-paid, rubberstamp agency as the OSBPPS to fatuously gather at taxpayers' expense to decide if one case differs from another.
It appears many people in powerful positions are not aware or refuse to validate this important information regarding sex offenders in our society. Unfortunately, their refusal to acknowledge this information will continue to lend itself to the ongoing rape, molestation and murder of our most important resource- women and children.
If anything substantive is to be accomplished to protect society from those sexual predators, people must be willing to speak up, to step to the helm and demand that our elected representatives perform the duties to which they have been entrusted. New laws must be enacted which will ensure those predators will remain incarcerated for the rest of their lives so they can never again bring harm to an innocent child or defenseless woman.
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