Sex Offenders

Don’t falsely reassure the public

This is a response to the Aug. 9 Community Voice entitled “Sense And Nonsense About Sex Offender Registries,” written following a news report that 28 men on the Sex Offender Registry identified the beach as their home.

While the authors make some valid points, there are some contravening facts that must be pointed out.

First, the authors state that many on the sex offender registries have committed ” lesser” crimes (e.g., exhibitionism, statutory rape, fondling), in addition to forcible rape. However in the process of plea bargaining, sex offenders are often convicted of lesser crimes than those they actually committed, in exchange for avoiding a trial.

This is especially likely in the case of sex crimes against children, because children are likely to be re-traumatized by having to face their perpetrators in court.

Second, the authors imply that, due to inaccurate statistics, the actual number of sex offenders is probably lower than the number reported. However both victims and perpetrators of rape typically under-report these crimes. Only 15-40 percent of rape victims make reports to police, and statistics seriously under-estimate the number of sexual predators. Hence if 28 known sex offenders reported the beach as their residence, we know there are many more who remain undetected.

Even if the data over-estimated the number of sex offenders living on Hawaii’s beaches by 20 percent this still means that there are 22 known sex offenders living on the beach. Is this not a cause for concern, if not alarm? In addition, parents do not want “lesser crimes” such as exhibitionism or fondling to be committed against their children, even in the absence of rape. These crimes can cause psychological trauma to victims.

The authors made the statement that treatment of sex offenders is successful. In any diagnostic category (e.g., schizophrenia, depression) only a percentage of actual sufferers are treated, and of that number only a percentage are treated “successfully.”

The number of sex offenders who completely recover is quite low, partly because few are motivated to change. In addition, clinical “success” is often defined as reduced occurrence. If  “successfully treated” sex offenders re-offend less frequently, this still places the community at considerable risk.

The authors have argued that harsh living conditions and deprivation are likely to increase the urge to re-offend. If 28 convicted sex offenders are now living on the beach, it can be assumed that they are homeless. Is this not a state of deprivation? How then is the public not to be worried about this situation?

We ought to treat those with a sex offense history decently, because they are human beings. In addition, not all of them will re-offend, so we should individualize our approach to offenders. However, to falsely reassure the public is not helpful to either the rehabilitation of offenders or the prevention of additional sex crimes.

— Karen Rich, LCSW, Ph.D., Marywood University, Scranton, Pennsylvania,

Hanauma Bay

Fewer tourists mean more fish — duh!

Not sure how long Nathan Kometani has lived in Hawaii, but I clearly recall that 35 years ago there were way more fish — especially near shore — in Hanauma Bay (Letters, “But … but … what about Hanauma Bay, then?” Aug. 9).

In the 1990s, the community realized that their numbers were dropping precipitously, and several steps were instituted such as limiting the total number of people at any one time who may be in the reserve, making people go through an educational video before entering, and closing the park one day a week. Those efforts have allowed a slow improvement over the past 20 years.

Its no surprise that a complete absence of tourists on Kauai allowed their nearshore fish stocks to recover in a very short period of time. If anything, I wonder if we ought to close Hanauma Bay for a few months out of the year?

Bryan Mick, Honolulu

Student Power

Millennials should embrace activism

Lana Reeves has a good grasp of the challenges that her generation faces in our political system (“Student Voices: ‘We Have Power, Fear Us’,” Aug. 8).

As a Baby Boomer and fellow Punahou alum, I agree our generation is treated far better than hers.

I was made more aware of that fact in 2008 when our daughter, about to enter college, applied for a federally unsubsidized loan at 7.9 percent interest. That was a shocking number given home mortgages were less than half that amount and banks were given interest-free loans after the recession. Even more disturbing was discovering that student debt was not dischargeable by bankruptcy, a “privilege” shared only with unpaid federal taxes.

This pernicious bias against millennials, supposedly the future of our country, has instead created a horrendous student debt of over a trillion dollars. By comparison, this is more than the home mortgage debt which led to the Great Recession. A recent article stated that millennials will be the first generation that won’t be financially better off than their parents.

Stoneman Douglas students, having faced death and realizing that nothing would be done to protect them, have become activists to save their own lives. Millennials need that same activism to save their economic future.

Mark Doo, Honolulu

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