Saturday, December 17, 2011

IL - Discrimination

Original Article

12/07/2011

By LaDonna Utley

Here's a question for you. How can we expect society to give offenders a 2nd chance or gain employment when IDOC won't even do that? As a sex offender there are very few jobs that one can have within the prison system. These inmates who want to work and rehabilitate themselves aren't given the opportunity to do so.

Sex offenders can't have most jobs "becasue there might be a female CO working that day". They can't get work release or have any job that pays anything decent. Well, if you call $30 a month decent. DJ was only allowed to work in property or food services.

Rehabilitation is a joke. IDOC does not do anything or offer any services that are based on rehabilitating offenders. They are just a number in the system. If not for the fact that DJ is one of the few people who could actually look at his behaviors and realize how wrong they were and be observant of other's behaviors and see how unhealthy they were, he would not be the man he is today. Lucky for him and me he is one of the few who actually can look at himself and see what needed to change and actually follow through on making those changes.

Everyone is capable of change but they have to want to and be willing to really look at themselves and be open to acknowledging what's wrong before moving forward. Not everyone is willing. There is a difference between capable and willing.

Point is when these people have served their time and released back into society they continue to face discrimination by society. Society hears the term sex offender and they automatically think that person is bad. People aren't bad, but they do make bad decisions. If they recoginze their bad behavior and have changed, why should they not be given a 2nd chance? Why can't it start within the prison system to give people the opportunity to be rehabilitated?

I know most people will say "they committed a crime and should have to pay for it". Yes, crimes need to be punished. But simply punishing people for their crimes does not prevent them from recommitting once they have served their time. If we concentrated more on rehabilitating inmates while incarcerated then the reoffense rate would be much less.

Society and the justice system wants to impose harsher laws and restrictions but that does nothing to solve the problem. We should be looking at ways to prevent the abuse before it happens, not just impose a harsh punishment once the damage is done. Why should we lock the barn door after the horse escapes?

DJ and I believe that if we educated more people about prevention we would see a much lower rate of abuse. No, it won't stop those who are truly sick and just want to hurt people. You will never avoid that completely but wouldn't it be worth a try even if it saved just 1 child? Statistics show that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are sexually abused. If we could reduce that by educating parents, teachers, and everyone else wouldn't it be worth it? The cycle has to stop somewhere. DJ was abused himself as a child and while that's no excuse, it does show a cycle of abuse. When will it end? Thank God DJ has been able to see his mistake and make real changes.

I know there are those out there who are judging him still and now I am being judged for standing by him. Go ahead and judge. You don't know DJ or me and I really don't care. I know the wonderful man he IS, not the monster they say he WAS! He is the most incredible man I've ever known and I will always stand by him. I hope that by telling our story we can help just one other person. It only takes one to get the ball rolling.


AR - Lack of Funding Causes NWA Sex Offender Task Force to Dissolve

Original Article

12/17/2011

Bentonville - After years of serving Northwest Arkansas, the sex offender task force is dissolving because of money problems.

"The task force was a new and fresh idea, it served the people well," says Benton County Sheriff Keith Ferguson.

But now, Sheriff Ferguson says the sex offender task force--will be dissolved.

"It got to the point where it was just costing more and more and it was doing less and less," says Ferguson.

Together, the task force serves Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington counties as well as some cities inside those counties, but this year only 3 offices could afford to pay the full bill for the services.

"We're in a recession, still are, money's tight and one department just couldn't continue to pay and it put a burden on the other three departments to continue to pay," says Ferguson.

Instead of paying more money, Sheriff Ferguson wrote a letter Thursday, saying his department could no longer solely support the task force secretary's salary.

Shortly after, Sheriff Ferguson received word from Deputy U.S. Marshall Dewaine Allen, that the task force would be dissolved.

But in Benton County, the Sheriff says folks won't see a difference.

"We're going to continue checking on our sex offenders in Bentonville were going to continue serving warrants," says Ferguson.

The process will now just take more time, but will inevitably save Benton County money.

"It's probably going to be better for Benton County because the attention will be solely put here by the officers that I've got here," says Ferguson.