Persons with sex-related convictions are often deliberately excluded from the reentry picture. This LTE points that out to the Washington Post and argues that everyone is entitled to a just future. Kudos to Kirsten Darby for using this important advocacy tool to register her perspective as a member of the community, with the newspaper’s editor.
I read with great interest the September 3 article [in the Washington Post] by Tracy Jan documenting the legal hurdles of those formerly incarcerated. I’ve led a faith based prison pen pal ministry for many years and have seen first hand the struggles these men and women face while incarcerated and once released. However, the author failed to mention the challenges faced by those convicted of sex crimes upon release. In Virginia, if lucky enough to avoid the arguably unconstitutional Sexually Violent Predators Act and civil commitment at the shadow prison of the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation, these men and women are still faced with a lifetime of registering on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry and all of the discrimination and mistreatment resulting from that label. If either the SVP Act or the registry actually protected our community or children, then the Commonwealth may have reason to spend millions of dollars a year on such programs, but statistics show that is not the case. Recidivism rates are less than 5% for sex crimes and less than any other crime except murder. It is time we recognize that time served is time served, regardless of the crime and stop making exceptions for those convicted of sex crimes to advance our standing in the community or further political careers. These policies do nothing to protect the victims of such crimes, as both the victims and the offenders are placed under such a cloud of shame that neither can heal nor move forward.