21 of 121 DOCUMENTS

	The Boston Globe

	July 18, 2005, Monday THIRD EDITION




	LENGTH: 773 words

	JOSEPH EDWARD Duncan III, who allegedly bludgeoned to death three
	people in northern Idaho and kidnapped two children, killing one
	of them, represents a tremendous challenge to our criminal justice
	system. What are we to do with a dangerous Level Three sex
	offender who has served his sentence but is likely to repeat his

	Duncan had served a 15-year sentence in a Washington
	State prison for raping a 14-year-old boy and was out on bail for
	molesting a 6-year-old boy. For every repeat offender who turns
	his life around, there are several others who commit even more
	hideous crimes. The typical child sex offender attacks more than
	100 children. That is why legislators around the country have
	recently devoted so much time writing tougher laws to track,
	restrict, or sentence dangerous rapists and child molesters. While
	well motivated, almost all such legislation is bound to fail.

	Sex offender registries, including the Comonwealth's version, have
	been ineffective. They make citizens feel safer but do little
	else. Many dangerous offenders never register. Others register but
	reoffend. Joseph Duncan was a registered sex offender.

	Not even a strong national offender registry would discourage
	recidivism. Notifying the neighbors that an ex-con is in their
	community only assures that he will be pulled out of mainstream
	society and pushed back into crime. As soon as the word gets
	around, he undoubtedly will lose his job, be evicted from his
	apartment, and be shunned by his friends and neighbors. Then he
	will move to somebody else's city or town.
	Some states have sought to put distance between sex offenders and
	children. At least 14 states have passed laws which provide buffer
	zones between convicted sex offenders and places where children
	congregate. The problem with such laws is that children are almost
	everywhere, not only in schools and at bus stops, but also at
	daycare centers, zoos, swimming pools, churches, shopping malls,
	and playgrounds. It is almost impossible for offenders to live in
	a community and not be in proximity to children.

	Last month, Florida and Oklahoma passed laws requiring electronic
	monitors using Global Positioning System technology for tracking
	sexual predators in the community. Legislatures in Pennsylvania,
	New Jersey, and New York are considering the same. Bills now being
	considered by Congress would require all repeat sex offenders to
	wear an electronic ankle bracelet for life.

	In theory, electronic bracelets would help law enforcement to keep
	an eye on high-risk offenders who come close to places where
	children congregate. This approach would, in all likelihood, help
	to prosecute sex offenders who violate the terms of their parole,
	but would hardly prevent them from committing new offenses.  Even
	Martha Stewart claims to have been able to dismantle her
	electronic monitoring bracelet. To this point, electronic
	monitoring has worked successfully for dissuading low-level
	offenders burglars, embezzlers, and drug offenders, not obsessed
	sex offenders from repeating their crimes. It would be an
	unmanageable task for authorities to monitor the hundreds of
	thousands of offenders who would wear electronic bracelets.

	Recognizing that electronic monitoring, buffer zones, and
	registries don't work, states are seeking methods for keeping
	dangerous sex offenders incarcerated after they are scheduled for
	release. In January 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that dangerous
	inmates could be held indefinitely, but only if they are proven to
	lack the capacity for controlling sexually harmful behavior; that
	is, they must suffer from a mental disorder.

	The problem with this approach is twofold: first, many sexual
	predators have character disorders, not serious mental illnesses.
	They choose to do the wrong thing because they enjoy it, and so
	are ineligible for indefinite incarceration. Second, psychiatrists
	and psychologists working for the state must decide who deserves
	continued incarceration, but they are generally less than
	effective at predicting dangerous behavior.

	There is really only one way for the criminal justice system to
	protect our children from sexual predators: Give dangerous repeat
	offenders the life sentences they deserve. A first-time
	perpetrator probably merits a second chance. He serves a finite
	sentence behind bars and then resumes his life in the community.
	Hopefully, he has learned his lesson. But a repeat offender has
	proven that he cannot be trusted with our children.

	The rule for habitual rapists and child molesters should be: Two
	strikes and you're never out again.

	LOAD-DATE: July 19, 2005


	NOTES: Jack Levin is director of the Brudnick Center on Violence
	and Conflict at Northeastern University and co-author of "Extreme
	Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder."

	Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company