Editorial: Committee made correct decision

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Albert Lea committee formed to study whether the city should pass a sex offender ordinance made the right decision. It recommended to not draft an ordinance because we don’t need one.

The idea had been floated to restrict, much in the way Iowa mistakenly does, how close in proximity sex offenders can live to schools, parks, child-care centers and possibly other places. Depending on the distance chosen, an ordinance could have effectively forced offenders into

rural areas and small towns. It probably would have started a chain reaction, causing the county and small towns to pass ordinances and, before you know it, the offenders can’t be found.

In Iowa, the number of sex offenders who can’t be located has tripled. Many have left the state, as we have witnessed here in Albert Lea, in an attempt to get on with their lives.

The majority of sex offenders are people who wished they hadn’t broken laws and are trying make up for their offenses. We aren’t being sympathetic, but the fact is &045; and police agree &045; many low-level ones are merely embarrassed and now want to do the right things. The corrections system corrected them. Some never touched another human being but had problems with exposing themselves. Some had relations with a teenager who lied about an age. Some did something dumb as a young adult and never knew it was wrong because they lacked quality parenting.

And, yes, there are some high-level ones who have a sad, sad, sad fondness for children, and they cannot be corrected.

Let’s be fair. They aren’t maniacs lurking behind bushes waiting to pounce on our innocent children at a playground. Most molestations of children are done by someone the children already know and trust, such as a relative or close family friend. That’s who parents need to worry about the most, a baby-sitter, a stepfather, an uncle, an aunt, an in-law, big sister’s boyfriend, that friendly neighbor and so forth.

Rape and molestation of children existed in the &8220;good-old days.&8221; But back then, no one talked about it, so maybe the old days weren’t so good. We’re glad today the issue is on the table, and

we think it has been healthy for Albert Lea to discuss such matters in recent months.

The last thing we want to do is force the known offenders into hiding. Apparently, states have laws to track sex offenders because we don’t have room in jails to lock them away, so the next best thing is to make sure they have jobs, pay taxes, contribute to society and make sure they tell us where they reside.

So talk to your kids. That’s the best way to protect them.