This was a hard interview for me. I have a lot of mixed feelings. I even have mixed feelings about David, who actually requested we do this interview on this topic – a topic that most people and nonprofits avoid! That took a lot of courage in itself! After this interview I spoke to the outreach team that has been working with him for the past couple of years, and they validated David has turned his life around and tries hard to help others and do the right thing.
David is a tier 3 sex offender. He even stated he was “the worst of the worse”. He spent 13 years in prison and was released on parole. His crimes were horrible, but no matter what you think of this man, he had served his debt to society and was adhering to the terms of his punishment. Trouble is, finding employment and a place to live is nearly impossible.
For the last few years David has lived in a tent community near downtown Columbus. Because he is homeless, David has to register with the sheriff’s department every day Monday through Friday. Here again I am torn. I believe strongly that sex offenders should register, but at the same time we should be helping them to get some kind of life back. Showing up on a daily basis to register as homeless you’d think someone would help them get out of homelessness! David talks candidly about not wanting a second chance out of fear of “offending” again. Instead he wants a life with the potential he’s always had but was afraid to live.
There is research that some sex offender laws, Jessica’s Law for example, have greatly increased homelessness among sex offenders. Sexually abusing anyone is horrible and should be punished, but keeping sex offenders on the streets puts people at greater risk. We must do something. Homeless services that actually take in sex offenders and try to get them off the streets are often criticized, when the reality is we should be supporting those nonprofits for protecting our neighborhoods.
David’s story and this topic is important and we cannot continue to keep our heads in the sand pretending nothing is wrong. My hope it you’ll watch this video and we can engage in a healthy conversation about solutions. The fact that a vast majority of sex offenders were actually abused themselves as a child leads me to believe we must seriously work on prevention and fix families for best results.
What do you think?
***I know this is a hot topic and emotions get heated. Open communication is encouraged, but personal attacks will not be allowed.
Special thanks to MaryHaven