Tuesday, February 18, 2014

'Sex offenders and the Farm Bill'

Somehow I'd missed this must-read post (Feb. 7) from the Austin Statesman's Eric Dexheimer about new prohibitions in the federal Farm Bill on sex offenders receiving food stamps, framing the issue with a discussion of a registered sex-offender in Austin seeking licensure as a plumber's assistant. Wrote Dexheimer:
Over the years, government aid programs have banned certain convicted criminals from receiving taxpayer assistance. Convicted drug felons have been prevented from receiving food stamps for nearly 20 years. (Some states have opted out of the restriction; Texas has not.) Same with felons on the lam. And some federal housing programs limit where sex offenders can live.

Agree with them or not, there is a public good argument to be made for each. Drug addicts could use their food stamps to buy drugs. Placing sex offenders in public housing might place other tenants at risk. Extending government aid to wanted criminals could delay their apprehension.

The new restrictions in the Farm Bill, signed by Pres. Obama on Friday, are still being parsed; a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the agency is scrambling to figure out which offenders would be excluded from food aid. But at least on the surface, the prohibitions appear to be a departure from the public safety rationale, and more directly punative. (Ironically, due to existing prohibitions on where they live and what work they can find, sex offenders are more likely to find themselves in need of assistance.)
For those in favor of perpetual punishment for sex offenders, it is undeniably true that many will always be terrible people unworthy of any assistance. Yet, as Jason C.'s case against the plumbing board demonstrates, not all of them are.

27 comments:

An Attorney said...

The Sex Offender registration and related laws need to be modified to remove one group. The slightly older young man who had sex with a slightly underage young woman. It some cases, the man MAY have been misled as to her age. People in that category are not typical predators on children, and not typical rapists either, and punitive laws should provide a means of escape for them.

Robert Langham said...

What is the economic impact of the creation of one felon?

Anonymous said...

At least this police chief will never have to worry about going hungry. He had his child sex conviction expunged from his record: http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20140210/NEWS0107/302100102/Ex-police-chief-has-sex-crimes-erased-from-record

Anonymous said...

It's counterproductive to deny these people resources that can reduce the risk that they will reoffend. We already know that financial hardship is related to crime.

I also find it curious that we consider it appropriate to ban sex offenders from certain housing "to protect their neighbors" when sexual recidivism is much lower than most other crimes, including burglary and robbery. And of course I object to the generality that "many" sex offenders are terrible people not worthy of assistance. It's easy to demonize people by labeling them.

Joe said...

How much drugs can you get for food stamps, really? I understand the concern. But, it's a basic necessity. With proper oversight, there should be a way to show that they are just using it for food. Perhaps, designate someone to buy the food or use a special location.

The license thing is gratuitous to me, but it's not akin to denying people food. That is like harsh.

An Attorney said...

Relatively few RSOs are a threat to harm children, and most of those are put away for a long time. Many were teenage guys who were dating a girl under the age limit. And in some states, just her being "in a state of undress" (?blouse unbuttoned?) can be enough to get a conviction. In researching the RSOs in a neighborhood, I found that the one closest had one episode of sexual contact (20 years prior), and 6 or 7 burglaries since then.

Margaret Moon said...

I'm really disappointed in this post. There are many offenses that will buy you a place on the registry and an awful lot of them do not include a "hands on" victim.
Also, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation stated in 2012 that the recidivism rate (a new sex offense) among sex offenders is 1.9%.
Why are these offenders punished forever in any creative way the leges can dream up???

Anonymous said...

36 years ago...and I am still being punished? Totally disabled veteran and can't get food stamps...thank you for your service?

Harry Homeless said...

More witch burning. It never ends. Without so-called sex offenders a very large swath of the population would have absolutely no way of feeling good about themselves.

Of course, those most responsible for bringing this country down are doing it quite legally.

Anonymous said...

"...the recidivism rate (a new sex offense) among sex offenders is 1.9%."

Wow! What a low recidivism rate. Almost nothing.

RSO wife said...

To Anon 6:50AM - What is a "typical" predator or a "typical" rapist? There's an old quote that says "Better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

Anonymous said...

The media need to sell their newspapers, their tv "news shows", their internet "news" -- and to do that, they use the old trick in the book -- FEAR. The media has created the big bad boogy man for all the public to fear, and they make millions off of feeding that fear.

The same thing happened in Germany with the Jews back in the 1930's.

You cannot argue with irrational fears. You cannot argue with what makes people money. There is nothing we can say, teach them, and have them realize... not until it is in their best interest to start to tell the Truth and explain the real facts, instead of fear-mongering.

Disgusted in Austin said...

As others have said, the punishment never ends! Here are but a few facts as I know them:

- SO's are denied education aid while in prison, simply because of their conviction
- SO's are denied housing all the time
- SO's are denied employment all the time
- SO's families and children suffer from the harsh judgement rained upon registrants
- recidivism IS indeed so low as to be preposterous the level of hysteria about a "violent registrant" is living on my block!
- FACT - and this one should bunch the panties of so many - 98% or more of NEW sex offenses are committed by someone NOT on the registry AND by someone known to the victim. Wha?? **exploding head**

So what does all this have to do with registrants being denied food stamps? LOTS

If you cannot find housing, nor employment, nor have cash to pay for food, how does one propose these folks reintegrate? How can they avoid returning to prison and thus not be a further cost to tax payers? It costs about $30k/year to house a prisoner. I'd MUCH rather give them $200/mo to feed themselves.

This farm bill provision is all posturing by politicians. Who came up with the portion to deny registrants food stamps? David Vitter, Senator from Louisiana. Yes, that Vitter who was caught in a sex scandal a few years ago!

My spouse will be released this summer from TDCJ with a conviction requiring registration. He didnt touch anybody, he didnt photograph anybody, he didnt talk to a minor. He unknowingly received pictures in an email (at least that's how we suspect they got there, it wasnt proven how). For this, his career was ruined, his children alienated. Must he now starve as well?

You should all be so gracious as my neighbors. They listened, they asked questions, and now they dont give a rats ass that he'll be living next door to them. May the world be blessed with more of them.

Anonymous said...

To disgusted in Austin: very well thought out comment. If only all neighbors were like yours. I have had to put cameras on my house to protect myself from harm. I have a good job and I'm raising my children in my home. 20 years after the fact I'm still punished by society and the government.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain Anonymous 10:14. One of my neighbors...a former assistant prosecutor, church volunteer and "Christian" has been harassing us for almost 10 years now. I put up cameras, complain to the police, but they turn a blind eye.

Anonymous said...

Hate to throw a rock at fans but I'm left with no options.

It doesn't matter what crime one is convicted of.

It doesn't matter if the convicted person is actually guilty of the crime.

It flat out doesn't matter, an X in a damn X.

H.R. departments don't give a rat's ass about the fine details regarding the results of criminal background checks. Matter of fact, the ability to create them via the utilization of vagueness that openly disregards the method(s) in which one obtained the X begs for reformation. *(plea bargain is the new 4 letter word),(juries not being given All of the evidence has always been a cuse word).

Lastly, those who think a person pissing in public is a sex crime or when a 18 year old taps a slutty 17 year old (that's telling everyone she's 18) equates to a sex crime - 'you' should be taxed with their life long assistance due to the hurdles your fear mongering as imposed on them and their families. Yea, I'm talking to you tuff on crime fucks.

Oh, when you create hurdles that prevent one from making an honest living or living in a house, you contribute to the crime rate by forcing the hungry to steal or pan handle. You also force people to live under bridges, in vacant houses and sewer systems. They call it - cause & effect for a reason.

Anonymous said...

why are our lawmakers keep wanting to destroy families lives?most of these registered sex offenders has not done no more than they(lawmakers) has done when they were young and dumb.it is so easy to become a felon ,just lie about a fish.but if a girl lies about her age the male pays for the rest of his life.most SO on the registry are none violent offenders.why do they have to keep paying for others doand not them ..the one law fits all is unjust and dose more harm than good..stop trying to make yourself look good or feel good ,to get reelected or elected with lies and cover ups.where is common sense?what about the illegals that has broken our laws that are receiving food stamps and welfare?is it ok for them? then it should be ok for sex offenders.stop lying about sex offenders.we have dangerous ones that needs watching ..all of them are not dangerous,stop punishing them for what others do .punish them for what each dose ,not someone else dose..report the truth ,we are tired of lies from our lawmakers..

Julie Hammond said...

I am so disappointed in the new provision of the farm bill.
When is It going to stop? Is is clearly putative punishment and law makers are adding these laws because it is easy to get them passed with a pat on the back "look what I did- vote for me..."

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rodsmith said...

Personally I think every govt fucktard who voted for any of the illegal so laws passed since 2002 including local politicians, governor's and our national fucktup president and every citizen who has voted for them. Need to be taken out and SHOT for TREASON to the United States Constitution.

sorry but based on the United States Supreme Court 2002 doe v smith decision pretty much all of them passed since 2002 are illegal and unconstutional

"Red" Merriweather Coast said...

It's difficult to imagine how to justify restricting sex offenders from receiving food stamps. (Sex offenders need to eat too.) While I don't necessarily agree, I do understand the justification behind restricting where sex offenders live or what professional certifications they can be issued, but how would a sex offender misuse food stamps?

Honestly, I can't conceive of anything that wouldn't also apply to the general public.

However, unlike drug offenders, I doubt that these punitive sanctions will drive sex offenders to commit another sexual offense. They may be more likely to commit some other offense, like fraud, but the recidivism for most sexual offenders is pretty low.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't this now fall under 'punitive"? There is no public safety threat, and just like everyone else RSO's pay taxes, are forced to pay for a license every year, some pay a registry tax already. They pay and pay, How is this Constitutional?

rodsmith said...

well red you might want to educate yourself over this!

" I do understand the justification behind restricting where sex offenders live or what professional certifications they can be issued,"

since every study I've seen says not only do residence and working restrictions NOT work and DON'T change a damn thing as far as offence occurances. But based on the 2002 doe v smith USSC decision that make the registry legal. They are in fact ILLEGAL.

don't take my word for it. read it yourself.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/01-729.ZS.html


Note especialy the part where the judtices say it's NOT like probation/parole because they can LIVE WHERE THEY WANT
WORK WHERE THEY WANT
GO WHERE THEY WANT

with no supervison and that there are NO INPERSON REPORTING REQUIREMENTS.

the only minimum invasion of their civil rights is to return a FUCKING POST CARD once a year.

sorry I don't need a new court decision to tell me that if a judge says what your doing is legal BECASUE your not doing "x" "y" and "z" and your ass goes out and passes laws that immediately REQUIRE "x" "y" and "z"

YOUR now the fucking criminal not the one your persecuting.

rodsmith said...

hmm thought that would shut you up. ignorant hate filled sheeple just hate it when facts suddenly get in the way.

Anonymous said...

Just the FUCKING facts, rodsmith. Just the FUCKING facts.

rodsmith said...

well 7:59 the fact is the former united states of American is now operated as a criminal enterprise. The U.S. Constitution has been in the trash pretty much since 1963. the pretty much identical political parties between them have controlled this country every since doing whatever they feel like and as long as they pass some retarded illegal law the sheep love. IT'S ALL GOOD!

it's basically too late. this country will before long go the way as yougoslovia. becoming a bunch of dif countries. Only question is how bloody the breakup will be.

Anonymous said...

Dear Grits,

Have you ever noticed that it appears that your articles regarding sex offender related issues gets the most reader posts than practically any other topic you write about? This is such a hotly debated issue regarding state and federal laws and the rights of those who have to register in this state as a sex offender. With all of the demagoguery that politicians and the media play out when it comes to sex offenders, your articles about sex offenders seems to be one of the very, very few that actually tells the truth and give the real statistics and facts. I wish you would write more on this topic. And yes, I am a registered sex offender.