Diplomatic Notes

Dealing with sex offenders

Recently, there were several public statements or pronouncements regarding sexual offenders and the establishment of a sex offenders register. Not too long after the registry was established, and an offender’s name and photo published, the offender was found dead. There was speculation that he was killed and some even cheered at the idea that the child rapist had received the justice he deserved. I believe we must be very careful and deliberate about an issue like this, otherwise, we could end up in a situation where vigilante and revenge killings replace the law.

These events created many questions regarding how such offenders should be handled and whether their names should be broadcast publicly. Society should be aware when a sexual predator or offender is in their neighborhood, but this public naming has the potential to have people identified, targeted and possibly killed. If a person has served their time, should they be subject to additional punishment and possible death? This is indeed a complicated issue, but I feel there are several important points we should consider as we move forward. I believe there is room for discourse that can help us arrive at a favorable outcome that would protect innocent children and deal with offenders in a just manner.

It appears, from what I have seen in news reports from the courts, that one of the biggest problems is establishing appropriate sentencing. The sexual offender, who was on the sex offenders register, was said to be a serial child rapist and after serving a nine-year sentence, was given a sentence of two years for touching a young child. Our laws should ensure first and foremost that our children are protected. In my opinion, anyone who molests a child should face a penalty of at least 30 years, and perhaps as high as 50 years in prison. The first obligation of our government should be to protect innocent children and anyone who violates children should be separated from society and not given another opportunity to offend if convicted. Two years or even 10 years is far too lenient in my opinion. Sexual violation of a minor should carry similar consequences to murder or manslaughter.

It is clear that some sex offenders, or perhaps most of them, may be suffering from mental illness and, if this is the case, they should be put in facilities where they can receive therapy. I do not know if rehabilitation is possible but they should be removed from society while therapeutic options are explored and the extent of the removal should be based on their level of offense. Even if they can be successfully rehabilitated, they should not have the opportunity to reoffend. If they have offended in this way, they should have to deal with the consequences and we should not take a chance and allow them to reoffend. Protection of children is the paramount issue.

I believe there should be a difference in the level of sentence and treatment of individuals based upon what their offense is. Sexual offenses are horrible in any respect, but there is a difference between an offense involving two adults and an offense involving an adult and a minor. Someone who offends a child should have the most severe sentence whereas an offense between two adults should be graded on the level of offense, the circumstances and the possibility of rehabilitation. Sexual offenses should carry penalties appropriate to the type of offense with offenses against children carrying the most severe penalty.

When it comes to sexual violence against women, as a society, we should have mechanisms in place to educate and train our young men, especially, on how to treat women, and what is appropriate and not appropriate in a relationship. Historically, many young men have been raised in a culture where sexual violence is commonplace and they might have been acculturated into a sense of ownership and lordship over women. Sometimes, we see and hear of negative actions of young men but fail to consider what they might have learned in the environments in which they were raised. Perhaps, sexual violence should be addressed in school curriculums and young people be required to attend sessions dealing with what is proper and what is not in relationships. Young men should be dealt with from both a justice and an educational perspective if we want to fully address sexual violence.

My conclusion is that we should carefully examine the issues and come up with a solution that would protect children and women (primarily) and also give young men an opportunity to learn and be educated on proper conduct.


• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to
pastordaveburrows@hotmail.com. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.

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