Or maybe you're fine with destroying criminals, so long as it keeps them from offending again. Certainly, any future victim would suffer way more than what these guys are going through. The question is: Do any of the measures actually protect future victims? We haven't specifically studied the effects of hot spinning dryer rodents, but from what we have studied, it doesn't look good.
The basic requirement that offenders check in with police does reduce their chance of reoffending, says the data. But state sex offender registries, along with the associated restrictions, don't appear to lower the chances at all. Public notification through mailers or the internet -- which leads to stuff like landlords discriminating and vigilante car chases -- appears to increase recidivism. The theory is that when you make a sex offender a pariah and make their life suck in general, they're more likely to reoffend because they have nothing to lose.
Yes, Some Of Them Relapse
One of James' residents, a child molester, was pretty much always drunk. He came home one time after being stopped by police, bragging to the rest of the park about how he'd escaped a DUI: "I demanded a blood test, and they let me go!" When police called the park about the resident sometime later, James figured the guy's drinking had finally landed him a violation. But then the police demanded a key to the man's trailer, saying they had a warrant. "All of this over a DUI?" asked James. No, said the policewoman. The resident had assaulted another kid. Later, it happened again, with another resident.
Overall, you can expect 13-35 percent of sex offenders to get caught breaking a law within 15 years of release, depending on what sort of sex crime they originally did. That's a big number. But it's actually dramatically below the recidivism rate of ex-prisoners in general and much less than what people think it is. People assume that most sex offenders will rape again, basing this "knowledge" on the villains seen in every episode of Law & Order: SVU. You can argue that maybe far more could be offending without getting caught, and of course that's impossible to know, but also remember how closely they're being monitored.
Reoffending hurts everyone, says James, even beyond the obvious effects on the new victim. "The other non-offender residents think less of everyone as a whole now ... The other offenders get mad at him or worry that it might happen to them and call in for more treatment. And of course the town used it both times as a crusade to 'Get them all out.'" After that second relapse, someone ran for city council promising to pass a law to kick the sex offender residents out. He won.
In the end, no law was necessary. After two years in charge, James sold the park. The relapses and the overall hassle had gotten to him. The final straw was when another family applied to move in and James couldn't bring himself to dig up an excuse to turn them down and keep the place running.
"The park's gone now," he says. "They tore it down some years ago." In its spot is a supermarket, and the residents have all left for elsewhere. "I can't tell you where they went. But I hope they found another haven."
Evan V. Symon is a journalist and interview finder guy for the Personal Experiences section at Cracked. Have an awesome job or experience you'd like to see in an article? Then post us up here or here!
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For more, check out 5 Things I Learned From Being Addicted To Child Porn and 5 Ways We Misunderstand Pedophilia (That Makes it Worse).
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