What If Someone Commits a Sex Crime and They Are Not Josh Duggar?
Date:  06-05-2015

Massachusetts State Representative speaks on the need to review existing policies on sex crimes
In the past week Josh Duggar, a cast member of the reality TV show “19 Kids and Counting,” created worldwide media attention when he admitted that he molested several underage girls when he was a teen. Reaction was overwhelmingly swift and harsh. Because the sexual offenses happened over a decade ago Duggar is not subject to criminal charges. Duggar’s situation has triggered a great deal of debate over sex offenses and punishment.

Reentry Central staff members have attended countless conferences and roundtables on criminal justice reform, reintegration and the importance of creating policies and programs based on evidence-based practices.

We have noticed that there seems to be reluctance by legislators and advocates for changes in criminal justice policy to include reform measures for sexual offenses. Reentry Central is aware sexual crimes are serious in nature. We know that victims of sex offenses can face a lifetime of pain, and we know that some people can be charged with a sex crime for dating and having a relationship with a girlfriend or boyfriend who is just under the age of legal consent. In a few states urinating in public can land a person on the sex offender list. All people who commit sex offenses are not the same, and neither are their crimes. In society people suspected or convicted of a sex crime are labeled perverts and predators, rapists and child molesters. Some fit the most heinous categories, and for these people incarceration is warrented.

As a noted reliable source for news on all matters of criminal justice reform and reintegration, Reentry Central is aware that people who are convicted of committing a sex crime have the most difficult time finding a place to live, gaining employment or rebuilding their lives in the community post release, even as government statistics conclude that those who served prison time for committing a sex crime have a very low recidivism rate.

People who commit sex offenses are not very likeable, and that is understandable. But they make up a segment of the 2.3 million people incarcerated people in America. People who make policy, and those who collect millions of dollars in funds to help people find jobs and housing, and to successfully reintegrate back in the community just can’t ignore people convicted of a sex crime and hope they go away because they find the such crimes so offensive. Neither should people who are committed to effective policies and programs wish the worst for the Duggar family, including Josh, because they called for the death penalty for rapists, people who molest children and those who commit incest, the latter two crimes of which Josh, ironically, is accused.

There is one legislator, however, who speaks often and freely about the plight of people who commit sex crimes, and because that topic is often ignored by the same people who advocate for effective criminal justice policies, Reentry Central has posted several of his articles.

Paul Heroux, a Massachusetts State representative who sits on the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security warns us that we should not confuse “punishment with crime prevention.” In an article that appeared in The Huffington Post on June 3, 2015 Heroux writes on why politicians create sex offense laws based on public fears and downright ignorance. Heroux wrote:

"The public expects and deserves evidence-based practices when it comes to public safety. This is true for any aspect of public policy but perhaps none so much as sex offender policy. With sex offenders, there is a sense of moral outrage at the depravity of their crimes, and rightly so. Virtually any sex crime makes the news headlines because the public has a very high interest in this crime. Too often politicians not only capitalize on the fear that is caused by sex offenders, but they inadvertently create more of it.

The manner in which this happens can be seen in sex offender registries and residence restrictions. Using the law to require that someone has to register to be on a registry, politicians are effectively saying that the person who previously offended is someone you need to be afraid of for future re-offending, even though the research says the likelihood is the lowest of the crime categories. Or by requiring through law that sex offenders cannot live in certain places, politicians are saying that if the converse were true, children would not be safe, even though place of residence has virtually nothing to do with who will be victimized." Read more.