Won’t you please not be my neighbor?

OK, ethics majors, let’s get to work. From the Bismarck Tribune:

When high-risk sex offender Richard Vondal moved into a house so close to Mandan High School that the school district had at one time considered buying it, anger and fear was a common reaction among parents and community members.

Sex offenders often have trouble finding appropriate housing once people find out who they are and what they’ve done. Few property owners will rent to sex offenders, and when an offender finds a home, the neighbors aren’t always welcoming.

Is this a case of just deserts for someone who’s violated the very intimate rights of another person, or is it incumbent upon society to do right by finding housing for offenders?

Consider: More than 120,000 people were considered “chronically homeless” in the U.S. in 2007, and…

Research has tied stability to lower recidivism rates for sex offenders, which means offenders who are homeless or lack support systems are more likely to reoffend.

So, what do you do with a sex offender who can’t find a place to live?

  • Elizabeth T

    Some day, Americans must come to grips with the consequences of our criminal justice system. Either we lock ‘em up for the rest of their lives … or … we need to accept that they need housing just like the rest of us. We must accept that criminals, who have served their sentences, deserve the same legal treatment as we do.

    I see no ethical difference between “stay out of my neighborhood because you’re a registered sex offender” and “stay out of my neighborhood because you’re black”. Is the person engaged in criminal activity? If the answer is no – then leave them alone.

    Not all sex crimes are equal. We should not treat all offenders as equal, either. A 16 year old having consentual sex with a 15 year old just doesn’t compare with sexual assault with a weapon. The sentences are different as far as jail time; but they’re the same if a person is permanently placed on some “list”.

    When is a “sexual offender” ever treated equally? Currently it is an unwritten (I assume it’s unwritten) rule that “you’ll never be treated equally again”. If that’s so – then take it out of hiding and just put it in writing to be clear what the consequences are. “Putting you on a sex offender registration forever” ignores the reality beyond that statement: ostracizing, rejected housing, rejected jobs. If that is okay, then it needs to be spelled out exactly when & how it’s okay. If we’re not ashamed of how we teat sex-offenders, then we ought to be comfortable explaining to them exactly when they are allowed to be discriminated against and when they are protected against discrimination.

    How about considering that almost all of them are male? How we treat criminals in this situation is sexist. This is a crime where female offenders are rarely accused, much less prosecuted. I’ve never heard a media story about a woman being on a sex offender registry.