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Increased Punishment Is Not the Answer

February 02, 1997

Re Robin Abcarian's column "Are We Really Equipped to Handle This Information?" (Jan. 22): Our four beautiful granddaughters, ages 3 to 8, frequently visit and stay with us. On reading Abcarian's article, I asked my wife what we should do if it were publicized that a child molester released from prison had moved to our block.

She answered, "Don't let the kids out alone." But we don't do that now since we live on a heavily trafficked street. There is no clear answer.

I don't need any judge to tell me that it is both unconstitutional and immoral to make it impossible for a convicted child molester to make a living and therefore to live by being hounded from neighborhood to neighborhood. The current fixation on progressively increased punishment is a proven failure. Witness the U.S. rates of crime, violence, recidivism and incarceration--this in history's richest nation.

What is needed is the public's serious appraisal of more effective ways of preventing child abuse.

What would I do if it were publicized that a convicted child molester had moved in down our block? First, we would have an extended family conference to make sure all of us, including the children, were aware of the danger. Second, I would try to meet with the child molester and discuss the problem of safeguarding our children, and make it possible for him to live here and make a living without endangering our children. This may entail investigating community services and resources. Third, I would try to arrange a meeting of the child molester and neighbors interested in participating in the same process.

NICHOLAS V. SEIDITA

Northridge

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