f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

August 30, 2007

Mt. Upton acts up against sex offenders

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 2:15 pm

– lawn sign in Mt. Upton, NY [News10Now]

– “Mt. Upton is United: Sex Offenders Get Out !… & Stay Out !…

An ugly sign of the times got the spotlight yesterday in a tv news report that focused on rural Chenango County, New York. (News10Now [Syracuse], “Chenango County sex offender law under consideration,” by Dana Hendrickson, Aug. 29, 2007; video included). Hundreds of lawns and shops in the tiny hamlet of Mt. Upton, NY, are sporting a red-on-white version of the sign pictured above, in a new campaign to persuade sex offenders to leave and stay out of their community. And see “Hamlet opposes offenders” (The Daily Star [Oneonta, NY], Aug. 29, 2007) Apparently, Chenango County Sheriff Thomas J. Loughren, whose website prominently features its Offender Watch program, is “pursuin” a county-wide sex offender residency law. The Daily Star reports:

“A group of people submitted a petition to the Guilford Town Board to make it illegal for sex offenders to live close to certain areas where there may be more children. That includes places like schools, bus stops and playgrounds

“The Chenango County Sheriff said because more than one town supervisor has contacted him about the same idea, he was motivated to think about a county-wide law instead.”

With a little Googling, I learned today that Mt. Upton is part of the Town of Guilford, which has a population around 3,100. Chenango County’s total population is about 51,000. Although Chenango’s county-seat, Norwich, is less than 80 miles from Schenectady, its politicians and citizenry have apparently not learned anything from the painful ongoing battle over sex offender residency restrictions [SORR] here in Schenectady County. (see the list of our prior posts on this topic below, especially “Schenectady’s (d)evolving Sex Offender Law“, Aug. 23, 2007). I wonder which towns and villages will feel victimized when exclusion zones leave their community open to sex offenders who are pushed out from the more populated areas of Chenagno County.

.. Is this logo about to get a big footnote?

Of course, I continue to empathize with the concerns of parents who worry over the safety of their children (having, for example, represented children who were victims of sex abuse by family members), but I must point out again that there is no reason to believe the laws they are pushing will be effective, but many reasons to suspect they will be counterproductive, extremely expensive to enforce, and unconsitutional.

Carrieann Heath, the Mount Upton mother who started the sign campaign after learning that “four or five” sex offenders were living in her hamlet (News 10 found 3 on the registry), is quoted saying they are not vigilantes (see the enlightening video) and told the Daily Star:

“There’s no lynch-mob mentality here, it’s more about protecting the kids.”

Supporters of the signs and the proposed laws don’t seem to realize that lynch-mobs and vigilantes always purport to act for some great, sacrosanct principle — such as protecting children, or the honor of white women, or the inviolability of property rights or union-free factories. When Chenango County’s politicians meet in Norwich to consider passing sex offender residency laws, I hope they will not take the city’s motto — “Where the 19th Century Meets the 21st” — too seriously. There are some forms of community action that are best left in the 19th Century.

According to the Daily Star, Carrieann Heath said she has been told most of the offenders in Mount Upon are not from the area, but may have been released by the New York State Center for Intensive Treatment in Norwich. A spokeswoman for the state agency that operates the Center says, however, “No one is released from the CIT into surrounding communities.” Inmates who do well there are transferred to less-restrictive state facilities, not released to live on their own. Of course, it is always easier to attack outsiders and — as we learned here in Schenectady County — to stampede politicians with slogans that decry being made a “dumping ground.”

wrong way smN I hope the leaders and residents of Chenango County will take a good look at the Gatehouse News report “Sex Offenders: A Flawed Law” when considering whether to pass a sex offender residency law. They might want to pay particular attention to the piece “Costs mounts to support sex offender laws” (MetroWestDailyNews, Framingham MA, Aug. 26, 2007) and — if they need examples of political courage in the face of “squeaky wheels” and popular demands to “do something” — to “Political Pressure: Legislators quick to target sex offenders,” (MetroWest Daily News, Aug. 27, 2007).

The arguments and developments relating to Schenectady County’s SORR laws should also be instructive for the people of Chenango County. f/k/a‘s coverage, with links to many relevant materials, can be found in the following postings:

ExitSignArrow One final point for now: I hope Chenango County’s leaders will seek out experts in the area of sex offender management. For example, see the New York State Alliance of Sex Offender Service Providers. Much helpful information is also available at The Parson, website of Rev. David Ness. It’s possible that useful contacts might also be available locally through the Guilford Press, a major publisher of psychological text books. In fact, the revised edition of “Principles and Practice of Psychiatric Rehabilitation: An Empirical Approach” is being published by Guilford Press in September 2007, and its authors may be able to offer considerable assistance in coming up with far more effective solutions than the use of residency restrictions.

new kids
move in next store –
withholding a smile

………………………………… by dagosan

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress