Posted: 05.22.2013 at 11:02 AM
Sex offenders - one woman's mission to separate myth from fact
"Shana Rowan first met her fiance when they attended high school in downstate New York. She says they lost touch when he suddenly left school at the age of 16. Years later, Shana says they reconnected.
Shana says they eventually fell in love and she learned the reason why he had disappeared when he was 16. It turns out that he had been convicted of sexually abusing an underage girl and spent four years in prison. She asked that we not reveal his name for fear over his safety.
"It wasn't a violent crime. It wasn't a forcible crime. Was it a crime? Yes, and I believe he should have been punished. I'm glad he can now see the impact he had on his victim, but he's not a monster. He's not a pedophile. He's not dangerous to children," Rowan told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon.
They are now engaged to be married. When they moved to a home in Oneida County however, her fiance, a level 2 registered sex offender, failed to register his new address on time. He was arrested and faced spending three years in prison.
Though he was able to avoid jail time, the experience provided Rowan with a mission in life. Shana Rowan is the Executive Director of USA FAIR, which stands for Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry. "We do advocate for some sex offenders but our focus is actually on family members because what I found when my fiance was looking at jail time, I felt so alone."
Rowan maintains a website that features extensive research that challenges what she says are society's preconceived ideas about sex offenders. She also lobbies legislators nationwide in an attempt to reform laws regarding sex offenders."
May 27, 2013 at 7:30 AM, updated May 27, 2013 at 7:31 AM
Hamilton nonprofit advocates reforming Megan's Law
"Shana Rowan, executive director of USA Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry (unrelated to Peifer’s organization), said the sex offender registry has lost its original purpose since the New Jersey Legislature enacted Megan’s Law in 1994.
“The initial idea of a registry was not a bad one, but unfortunately it has expanded exponentially. Now, there are hundreds of crimes that are considered registrable in various states, ” Rowan said. “It’s no longer a safety tool, where people can look and say ‘These people might be dangerous to my kids.’”
“Offenders need to be held accountable, but it gets to a point where, once somebody has served their time and is back out into the community, a lot of these laws are set up to make them fail,” she said.
USA FAIR isn’t against the registry itself. Instead, Rowan advocates for a more “intelligent” database based on “individualized risk assessment,” taking into account the nature of each offender’s crime, personality and risk of recidivism.
“We need to get away from the broad brush approach, treating everybody as if they are the worst of the worst and are going to go out and rape and murder children,” Rowan said. “We have to look at the research between different subtypes of offenders that have very different recidivism rates.”"