Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Opinion Special Edition - The True Liberal?

The true liberal?
That’s My Opinion – Special Edition
By Bob Robinson

I’ve been ‘outed.’
John Graham called, said he wanted to meet. We talked. He patiently answered my questions. Then I said… “and why did you want to meet?”
He tossed a sheet of paper in front of me.
It was an “offender details” sheet posted on the Pickaway County Sheriff’s web site, Circleville, Ohio.
I looked at him questioningly.
“You said sex offenders should be drawn and quartered…”
“Sex predators. There’s a difference…”
“Predators, then. That sheet tells me you don’t really mean that.”
I looked more closely. It was the young woman I tried to help nearly four years ago. Tier III, rape of a male child. I didn’t recognize her. Multiple prison terms have a tendency to change people… and she was a lot “harder” than the homeless girl I allowed to sleep on my couch one “zero degree January night.” Her only other option was a doorway on South Broadway.
I didn’t find out about her prison record until later, but by then I was committed… committed to helping her find a job and get her life back on track. Her “story” was a sad one, filled with tales of abuse, first with her natural parents, then with foster parents until she turned 18.
Graham (and others) told me that I was putting myself at risk. Hey, she was 21… just a kid! She still had a chance.
She was convicted of raping a young boy as an 18-year-old adult. She insisted she was innocent, that she had been set up by the boy’s parents. It was my understanding that the boy was 15; Graham said he was 12.
I eventually had to accept the fact that she wasn’t capable of being helped. And that her relationship with the truth was tenuous at best. My friends tried to help her; we “invested” in her, but she wasn’t willing to invest in herself. She went back to prison.
I still mean what I said… sex predators should be drawn and quartered.
Why should a person – male or female – be allowed to ruin someone’s life and then be given a second chance? What about the second chance for the victim who has recurring nightmares, is unable to function in the real world… or was brutally removed from it?
Those crimes are unforgivable. At least by me. God can do with them as He wishes. I guess we can all thank Him that I don’t make the rules. Drawing and quartering someone is not the act of a civil society, but I believe that a society that turns these people loose to prey on victims again is itself committing a criminal act.
The big problem that we face today is that our society does turn them loose. And it leaves the challenge of dealing with them up to us when the predator turns up in our neighborhoods.
So what in the hell do we do with them?
Along comes a “liberal” who says that the Christian way is to give anyone who really wants it a second chance. I can’t argue with that. The Bible teaches forgiveness. But I can argue the reality.
Right or wrong, people get scared when there is a concentration of sex offenders/predators/felons in their neighborhood. Right or wrong, people tend to steer clear of a neighborhood if they perceive a problem… ie, property values get hurt. Graham said the publicity has hurt values more than them being there. I disagree.
Right or wrong, there is always a chance that someone will make a mistake in labeling an offender low risk. The study of human behavior is not an exact science. Right or wrong, the higher the concentration of felons in one location, the greater the chance that an innocent victim in that neighborhood will pay for that ‘mistake.’
I can understand why local residents are upset.
I have a tremendous respect for what Graham is doing to help people whom the state has turned loose on a society that few want “in their own backyards.” I also have tremendous compassion for those who fear for their safety or that of their children or neighbors.
It is a complex, contentious issue that is not likely to be resolved until we are advanced enough to understand and deal with the “big picture” of society’s problems.
In the meantime, I beseech Graham and his Citizens Circle, and the leaders of Citizens4Change, to meet and see if they can find common ground… any starting point – no matter how small – is better than what we have now.
Solutions – just like journeys – have to start with the first step.
Regarding my attempt to “save” a young woman from herself? One whom society had incarcerated then turned loose on an unsuspecting public?
“You are the true liberal, my friend,” Graham said. “They still talk about you over at the parole office… about the chance you took. I never would have done that.”
I’d do it again. Draw your own conclusions.
That’s my opinion. What’s yours?

Bob Robinson is the retired editor of The Daily Advocate, Greenville, Ohio. If you wish to be notified when a blog has been posted, send your email address to: Feel free to express your views.

1 comment:

That's My Opinion said...

Charlie James said:

for Bob ad other interested parties,
I have been following the Greenville/Graham/sex offender/halfway house/second chance items in the paper and via Bob's blog.
I perceive a bit of the 'not in my back yard' syndrome, with multiple persons input about doing 'good works', just do not do them in Darke County (especially if the person is not from the county).
Bob's own account of trying to help an offender, and continuing to state he 'would do it again' is one of the observations of what I consider to be the conflict of all humans, that of applying one set of standards/rules to persons or situations where we are personally involved, and yet a different set of standards/rules to similar/same situations where we are not involved.
As Bob states, this (and all human) scenarios is complex, needing/wanting the attention and involvement of a community of caring, intelligent, thinking individuals, attempting to work in the spirit of 'continuous improvement', a goal of my life and one which I wish for all of us.
Bob, and all, keep up the communication. Please define goal(s), always working towards specific, stated, communicated, objectives (as adverse to general ideas and concepts). Be specific, communicate well, try to avoid lots of emotion (yeah, I know, we passionate folks are hard to control emotionally). Anger and shouting do more harm than good.
Lastly, make sure each of you prioritize your efforts. Focus on he one or two items/issues your personally believe to be of the greatest value to the citizenry of the selected geographic area of choice.