The incompetent decision to keep this predator on the streets to terrorize our children is a clear indication that our justice system is not equipped to protect the public from sex offenders. A psychiatrist who wrote up the probation report on Gardner’s decade old molestation case implored the court that the defendant had "significant predatory traits" toward underage girls and should be kept in prison for as long as possible. But the D.A. decided to plea-bargain and reduced Gardner’s sentence as long as his victim did not have to testify. Consequently, the D.A.’s outrageous decision to put a dangerous sex offender back on the streets after only 5 years of prison time has resulted in the death two young women as well as an unknown number of victims of attempted sexual assault.
The statistics of sex crimes in the United States are shocking and undeniably disturbing. For instance, there are currently over 400,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, and the number of predators that fall through the cracks is unknown. According to the National Alert Registry, over 2,000 children are reported missing every day, and there is a one out of three chance that a child will become a victim of a sexual predator. Eight out of ten rapists are released prior to trial, and 61% of violent sex offenders have a prior record. These numbers are compelling, and it is clear that the justice system is not doing a good enough job from protecting its citizens from sexual predators. As a law-abiding tax payer and the mother of two kids, these statistics are not only frightening, but they are appalling. But before we can see any drastic reduction in sex crimes across the United States, our laws must significantly change to enforce that convicted predators are sentenced to life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Every time a sex offender is placed back into the folds of society, the system is endangering another child’s life.
The United States probation system acts as a revolving door for sexual predators because these criminals have the highest rate of committing the offense over and over again. They are legally allowed to reside in neighborhoods forcing families to live in fear that one of their own will fall victim to the offender’s sick and twisted aggression. The legal system is far too lenient when sentencing sex offenders and instead of severe punishment, their prison sentences are shortened after they have gone through a rehabilitation program that rarely cures their sexually deviant behavior. They are let back out on the streets to act out their violent behavior again and again.
Sex offenders should be punished harshly with a “first strike you’re out” policy that will never allow these criminals out in public again. The first time they are caught and proven guilty of a sex crime, they should be thrown behind bars for life. Some experts suggest chemical castration where the criminal is injected once a month with Depo-Provera, a drug which reduces testosterone levels and sexually fantasies. Chemical Castration therapy is said to cause the rate of relapse to fall to 5%. But the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the coerced administration of any drug, including anti-androgen drugs for sex offenders, arguing that forced chemical castration is a "cruel and unusual punishment". What is cruel and unusual punishment is allowing these monsters to walk free and put women and children at risk.
At the end of the day the law needs to change on how sex offenders are punished for their crimes, but as any political and controversial subject is handled, mounds of red tape, bureaucratic indecision, interference from groups such as the ACL and lack of support from the public will surely prevent law reform to happen any time soon. What this means is that we must do everything we can to protect ourselves and our children from these predators. Unfortunately, it took the murders of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois to cause us to snap back into painful reality and realize the world is not safe, and we need to seriously teach our children how to protect themselves from becoming a victim. There are many free self defense clinics across the country, which specifically teach teenage girls how to fight back and escape from a sexual predator. Academic institutions ranging from elementary to high school should conduct mandatory self defense workshops for each and every grade level. Young girls in particular should always walk or exercise with a buddy, keep the iPod home, have the cell phone on, carry a pepper spray and be distinctly aware of their surroundings. All girls should be taught to NEVER talk to strangers or accept a ride from someone they don’t know really well.
This may sound a bit angry but women need to get their head out of the clouds and stop thinking that bad things just don’t happen to them. Here are five simple rules to follow:
1. Don’t walk around distracted and unfocused (i.e. rummaging through a handbag for keys). Be aware of your surroundings and don’t be distracted by talking or texting on a cell phone or listening to an iPod.
2. Walk tall with confidence, your head held high and your shoulders up to elude a “don’t mess with me” attitude.
3. Avoid walking alone, especially in isolated and dark places. If you must take a remote path, be sure to carry a personal alarm, a working cell phone, and a flashlight if it is in the evening. In addition….
4. Carry a personal protection device such as a pepper spray, mace, TASER or stun gun. These are very effective self defense tools that are legal in most states and will give you a strong advantage when confronted with a threatening situation.
5. When going out to a social event, do not leave your drink unattended, or allow someone you don’t know that well to get you one. Do not drink from an open punch bowl while at a party or have someone make you a drink without you watching. Date rape drugs are becoming very popular, especially among the college crowd, and they work very fast to disorient and confuse the victim. Date rape drugs have no color, no smell and no taste and can knock a person out for as long as 3 or 4 hours. To learn more about date rape drugs, visit www.womenshealth.gov.
If you believe you are a victim of date rape, please do not shower, urinate, douche, brush your teeth, eat or drink or change your clothes. Have a trusted friend or relative drive you to the hospital to request a urine test. Date rape drugs leave the body very quickly, and it is absolutely imperative you are tested right away. The hospital will also use a rape kit to collect evidence. Most importantly, make sure you call 911 at the hospital and tell the police everything you remember. Please believe that being raped is NOT your fault and the more information you can disclose, the better chance the police will have to catch the predator and save another person from being a victim.
Remember that sexual predators come in all shapes and sizes, and there is a good chance that you may even know one. The key is to be aware, to stay protected, and to not take any situation for granted by letting your guard down for a minute. Sexual assault can happen with a blink of an eye, but if you are mentally prepared to face any given circumstance, chances are you will come out of it safe and a stronger person than before.