Published: October 1, 2013
Restricted Group Speaks Up, Saying Sex Crime Measures Go Too Far
"Jason Shelton, at home in Encinitas, Calif., has been unable to find work since serving time for a sex offense. “All I want is a job,” he said.
LOS ANGELES — Larry Neely looked out across the expanse of an airport hotel conference room that usually holds conventions of labor unions, political groups or business executives.
On this day, though, the chairs were filled with dozens of people who, like Mr. Neely, have had to register as sex offenders.
Mr. Neely, who pleaded guilty to multiple counts of sexual indecency with a child dating to 2003, said that at first, “I was terrified; I was hiding, hoping to stay under the radar.”
Across the room, men in the crowd nodded.
As local and state governments have imposed tough penalties for sex crimes in recent years, including restrictions on where sex offenders can live or even set foot, members of this highly stigmatized group have begun to fight back.
A few weeks ago, more than 100 people — sex offenders, almost all of them men, along with wives, girlfriends and mothers — came from around the country to “Justice for All: A Conference to Reform Sexual Offense Laws.”
They and others have formed associations and are holding conferences like this one to argue that a wave of legal penalties and restrictions washing across the country has gone too far. They hope to convince judges, lawmakers and the public that indiscriminate laws aimed at all sex offenders are unconstitutional and ineffective.
Over the last few years, Mr. Neely has overcome his fear and taken on a decidedly public role: He has become an advocate for sex offenders’ rights. At the conference, he urged others to speak up."
Oct. 2, 2013 2:15 pm
Is It 'Very Offensive' for Sex Offenders to Demand Just and Sensible Laws?
"As further evidence of the shallow thinking behind the indiscriminate crackdown on sex offenders, consider Schroeder's take on the debate about recidivism: "The pro-sex-offender lobby likes to bandy about percentages, as if even 1 percent is acceptable." Actually, it is the supporters of ever-harsher laws who like to bandy about percentages, claiming that sex offenders should be treated as an especially worrisome class of criminals in part because they are especially likely to commit new offenses after they've served their sentences. Since the evidence suggests that is not true, surely it is relevant to say so. Questioning hyperbolic claims about recidivism hardly amounts to saying recidivism is "acceptable."
July 2011 issue