Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sex offenders off the radar

I got another issue of The Journal from CABE full of pablum about the State Department of Education. This is a lot more important (I'll get back to the flotsom later).

Katrina sent sex offenders off the radar
Governors urged to track 2,000 evacuated offenders

Friday, December 30, 2005; Posted: 4:52 p.m. EST (21:52 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Governors in states that accepted Katrina evacuees are being urged to locate about 2,000 registered sex offenders who fled the Gulf region during the hurricane's mayhem and may have vanished from legally required tracking.

The unexpected consequences of the Bush administration's bungling of Katrina continue to ripple through our communities. Couple this with a recent WFSB I-Team news investigation of the Rocky Hill Veteran's facility.

It says,
An I-Team investigation...Dangerous conditions at Connecticut's Veterans Home in Rocky Hill, and we discovered much more than just health hazards.

Our investigation also uncovered convicted felons -- even sex offenders living inside.

It's a report that has the government backpeddling -- even before they see the story.

Our I-Team undercover camera captured decrepit bathrooms, dirty walls and ceilings, and floors falling apart inside the state veterans' home.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to residents' fears for their health and more importantly, safety.

Veterans and other sources tell Eyewitness News the home has admitted a growing number of veterans with more violent pasts.

"Rocky Hill essentially has a prison in its backyard at some level," said Richard Browne a former resident at the Veterans Home. "And it's not being taken care of."

Richard Browne lived at the home for 10 months beginning in June of 2004. He says in his short time there he noticed a growing number of fellow veterans on probation and parole.


This facility is being expanded. The feds have an obligation to provide the community with an inventory of what our veterans are being subjected to as well as to the quality of people residing there. Here's why (aside from the painfully obvious);

On December 28,, 2005, the Chronicle wrote an op-ed piece called, Field Trip Offers a Real Education.

The field trip was by Windham Middle School students to the Rocky Hill Vetran's Home. It discusses parental opposition to the field trip and that the Windham Middle School Staff "stood their ground. The students visited the home."

The op ed goes on to say, "These trips are historically well supervised with plenty of chaperones, from both the school and veterans home staff. Threats are not an issue."

Excuse me? Threats are not an issue!

As a school board member I would have voted, NO - not on my watch. I do not know the psychology of the threat that exists but I would be loathe to parade anyone's middle school child into the imagination of a potential threat. I disagree with the Chronicle editorial and with the administrators who allowed such a trip.

I would like to see the State Department of Education issue a policy guideline that suggests proibiting the exposure of students to facilities that house sex offenders. This isn't an issue of respect for veterans this is an issue of public safety that all of the platitudes about real-world experiences cannot justify.

Furthermore for the safety of the residents, any expansion of this facility should conform to strict State of Connecticut guidelines for residential eligibility.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sex Offenders
Are you expressing a well grounded fear of "sex offenders" or are you reacting to the pop paranoia of the moment?

Your proposal to protect our children from contact with these individuals would rule out school trips to homes for the elderly, nursing homes, the library, historical museums, art museums, prisons, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and perhaps the post office as well as the local fire station. State and local parks and beaches would have to be included in the banned areas to visit. Sex offenders may be found in all places, including homes for veterans. (It would be a cheap shot to mention school sports team coaches here.)
The common image of the sex offender may be that of a leering pedophile stranger in the never ending pursuit of repeating their crimes. However the majority of registered offenders do not fit this category. A quick check of those registered in the Region 19 area confirms this.
We protect our children best, not by limiting their exposure to learning experiences, but by education and supervision.
The students from Windham got a short but healthy break from endless drills to be tested on. I applaud Windham's efforts to teach outside the box for one day instead of keeping the kids politically safe inside the box.
David

Frank Krasicki said...

Are you expressing a well grounded fear of "sex offenders" or are you reacting to the pop paranoia of the moment?

I'm not expressing fear at all. I'm saying that to knowingly expose middle school children to criminal elements is irresponsible, IMO. This issue cannot be considered pop paranoia just because it gets air time.

Your proposal to protect our children from contact with these individuals would rule out school trips to homes for the elderly, nursing homes, the library, historical museums, art museums, prisons, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and perhaps the post office as well as the local fire station. State and local parks and beaches would have to be included in the banned areas to visit. Sex offenders may be found in all places, including homes for veterans. (It would be a cheap shot to mention school sports team coaches here.)

You're either missing the point or being disingenuous. I'm not saying "don't breathe because the air is polluted". I'm saying that evidence suggests that veteran's homes are being co-opted as pseudo-prison warehouses for criminal elements. That's a risk factor far different from visiting museums where chance may expose a kid to harm.

The common image of the sex offender may be that of a leering pedophile stranger in the never ending pursuit of repeating their crimes. However the majority of registered offenders do not fit this category. A quick check of those registered in the Region 19 area confirms this.

This has nothing to do with Region 19 per se. The government's bungling of Katrina has left thousands of these individuals unaccounted for - that's a sad fact. And my cautious approach isn't presuming repeat criminal behavior. As the saying goes, "Don't wave a red flag in front of a bull." The offender themselves may not wish to be put in a situation that triggers undesirable behaviors.

We protect our children best, not by limiting their exposure to learning experiences, but by education and supervision.

All the platitudes in the world will not undo the unnecessary risk taken in this case. I am not against healthy learning experiences and I do not question the quality of supervision. I'm simply suggesting that potentially being in the wrong place at the wrong time is a risky proposition - one that I would not have approved of.

The students from Windham got a short but healthy break from endless drills to be tested on. I applaud Windham's efforts to teach outside the box for one day instead of keeping the kids politically safe inside the box.

We agree that the endless drills are a drag but we agree to disagree about the field trip. Thanks for the dialogue. I'm glad it attracted interest and discussion.

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