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Problems with sex-offender laws

January 25, 2009

Re "Revisit Jessica's Law," editorial, Jan. 19

While California has gone to great expense to outfit all people on parole for sex offenses with GPS monitors, regardless of risk level, it has recently suspended all contracts with providers of specialized sex-offender treatment to parolees.

In other words, one of the few proven tools for reducing recidivism among sex offenders has been sidelined because of the current budget crisis, while an outrageously expensive tactic that has not been shown to make a difference in recidivism has been generously funded.

Second, while policies for protecting the public from sex crimes in California and across the country have continued to focus entirely on convicted sex offenders, it is believed that registered sex offenders are only a small proportion of the overall sex-offender population.

If we really care about public safety, we should be focusing on the unknown tens of thousands of sex offenders in the community who have not yet been arrested for sex crimes but who are currently committing offenses or at high risk to do so. Otherwise, we are like the fool who puts bars over the window through which a thief has previously entered, while leaving his other windows unbarred.

Michael P. McAssey

Davis, Calif.

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Jessica's Law may be a boondoggle, but to speak against it alone, based on cost-effectiveness, fails to see the bigger picture.

That same argument applies to the whole of sex-offender registration. Megan's Law too is a horrendous waste of taxpayer funds, with little results -- other than to destroy and isolate former offenders.

Of greatest waste in this mass psychosis is sweeping up those who commit misdemeanors. If it is not politically feasible to eliminate this onerous registration, then at least exempt these minor offenders -- if not for simple humane reasons, then to stop the wasteful spending. Revisit Megan's Law too.

Kevin FitzMaurice

Los Angeles

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