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Law enforcement actions make situation worse

Also posted on the Fort Bragg Patch and the Fayetteville Observer

By Sandy . . . In Fayetteville, North Carolina, what could and should have been a warm, human-interest story was re-shaped by law enforcement into something entirely different.

The real story is about those who take very literally the Biblical admonitions to serve the least of those in society, to help our neighbors, and to do unto others as we would want done to us. Additionally, the members of Fayetteville Urban Ministry who visit and take food and other essentials to the men living in tents along Martin Luther King Freeway and Gillespie Street Bridge in Fayetteville are training their children in selfless service to others.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department, however, saw something different. They shifted the focus away from the real story and turned it into a “public service announcement.”

“Cumberland County Sheriff Ennis W. Wright and the deputies assigned to the Sheriff’s Office Sex Offender Registration Enforcement Unit (SOREU) have increased concern for the public’s safety . . . Registered Sex Offenders live under and around the MLK and Gillespie Street Bridge.”

People on the sex offender registry are homeless due to restrictions about where they may live, restrictions that are shown by all studies to be of no public safety value whatsoever, restrictions that have even been denounced by the U.S. Justice Dept. in the summary of their chapter on sex offender management strategies: “Finally, the evidence is fairly clear that residence restrictions are not effective. In fact, the research suggests that residence restrictions may actually increase offender risk by undermining offender stability and the ability of the offender to obtain housing, work and family support. There is nothing to suggest this policy should be used at this time.”

This action by the sheriff’s department begs the question, “What has this accomplished?” – not “Why did they do this?” for that is known only by those involved, but, “What has been accomplished? Who has been helped?”

Without this “public-service announcement,” were children at risk? There is no evidence of that. Even if there were any risk from the occupants of the tents – and there is also no evidence whatsoever that there is — any children visiting there were part of the Urban Ministry group, supervised by parents and other adults.

Without this announcement, would hordes of Fayetteville citizens have rushed to the tents, putting themselves at risk, again a risk that no evidence supports even existed. Why did the sheriff’s office have “. . . increased concern for the public’s safety”?

So what has been accomplished?

Further vilification of a segment of society. Further portraying of people with past sexual crime convictions as “the other.” Further ostracization and isolation of everyone on the registry.

In other words, what the sheriff sees as “a public safety announcement” is, in reality, further reinforcement of the conditions which science shows lead to sexual offending in the first place, conditions that create further barriers to integration of those with past sexual crimes into the community, integration which science deems necessary to maximize rehabilitation and reduce even further the already very low rate of reoffense.

So what has the Cumberland Sheriff’s Department accomplished?

Quite possibly the exact opposite of what will actually increase public safety.

Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

5 Thoughts to “Law enforcement actions make situation worse”

  1. AvatarA Mistake They Made

    This Sheriff needs about 800,000 phone calls telling him what a piece of dirt he is to do this.

    1. AvatarTim in WI

      Every time we elect a new Sheriff, they round up the counties’ sex offenders. We elect a new one in August. The non compliant among us will end up arrested and jailed until signature bond is assigned. This accomplishes nothing but praise for the newly elected. The local papers will report the compliance checks and publicize any arrests, but they never cover the fact that many of us are ex post, with no record of the obligation to register in the court record. The press sure as heck doesn’t publish the retrospective wording of the registration regime law itself. Laws that look backwards are referred to as retrospective statutes. Those kinds of laws are not specifically prohibited by our constitution except for their upon crimes. Where clearly their use were rejected by the founders and found to be counterproductive when issued upon crimes. This is precisely what we see evidenced today, and it couldn’t be any clearer.

  2. AvatarLaw reformer Advocate

    Reminds me of a form of Nazism and abuse of power. Many of the sex offenders were victims themselves as a child.
    “Let he who has not sinned throw the first stone”.
    Its time to move from the 18th and 19th century tactics to 21st century knowledge.

  3. AvatarCJB

    Ms Sandy

    Wherein I reside, a US Territory, in which there are only 54 persons on SORNA, out of a population of 85K-plus, they, the Territory, Received $287K to Buy 2 NEW Suburban Style SUV’s and they run Public service announcements on the Local NPR station with both the Attorney Genera’l’s Voice and the Head of SORNA’s voice to let all citizens know about all 54 of us and how to access information on their portal and to beware of US

    well…if u google what happens is teachers and family members who sexually abuse….the victims know their perpetrator in all forms… person that is forced to register has ever committed a sexual act EXCEPT FOR…..Jeffrey E

    so they gotta go after low-hanging fruit to justify their existences

  4. AvatarTS

    What he has done is swept two populations into one for fear mongering only. He has relayed the department’s belief that homeless people are all people who have a sex conviction and that all people who are convicted of a sex offense are homeless. Every time someone will look at a homeless person now they will possibly associate them with a sex conviction and run the other direction. This is unprofessional by the sheriff, especially in this election year which it is for him this year. Now, his move makes sense…election fodder.

    BTW, as a minority sheriff he should know better than to characterize others in such a manner. I sure hope Robin @NCRSOL will take him to task locally as @NARSOL has nationally.

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