[ View the story "Sex offender's speech ignites debate over registry system" on Storify] Sex offender's speech ignites debate over registry system Residents in Belmont, Massachusetts polarized after hearing the public address of Carl Peterson.
AJAMStream· Thu, Sep 26 2013 22:27:52
commented in the Belmont Patch that information about Peterson was limited to
on the police department's website:
the meeting was called by the Belmont PD because of issues raised by concerned residents about the timeliness and scale of information distribution about a level 3 sex offender moving into the neighborhood. While some rumors may be in dispute, it is a fact that Mr. Peterson was here for some time before the information was disseminated (as is legally required) and the initial dissemination amounted to one tweet and one pdf on the police department website. Residents voiced concern and wider measures were taken.belmont.patch.com
At the meeting, Assistant Police Chief James MacIsaac
, “Did information come out in a timely fashion? Absolutely not." The department's new policy is to notify the community within 2 days through newspapers and schools whenever a level 3 sex offender registers.
Peterson's statements, an excerpt of which is below, resulted in polarized reactions:
"The problem is all you know, all you get to know about my problem is what you read ... which says I'm the most dangerous and the most likely to reoffend of all sex offenders. It also says my offense was the rape against a child. What's important is that I'm not the victim. I'm a sex offender and I committed a crime and I did spend four years in prison for [it]... The problem with that word is when I hear [it] and [the phrase] a sex offender likely to reoffend, what I hear is 'a pedophile.' That word has been tossed around ... That is not what happened in my case."
One Twitter user applauded his attendance and called him brave:
A sex offender faces his community and holds himself to account for his actions. Pretty brave if you ask me. http://belmont.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/im-the-level-3-sex-offender-all-of-you-have-been-talking-aboutTim Norton
Some felt the open discussion was important to address misconceptions surrounding the "sex offender" label. User
Erica Wilson commented:
I commend this man for his courage. I am also supportive of those in the audience who stayed and listened to him. It can be very scary to to have a certain mindset challenged. Especially a mindset that agrees with so many of the fear-mongering myths surrounding the label of "sex offender"belmont.patch.com
Many people are un-informed about what the different levels mean in different states some are color coded and truthfully most people don't care they see your name on this list and you just became the neighborhood child molester and or pedophile looking for a victim.belmont.patch.com
But others did not agree. Reader
of parenting blog The Stir
Absolutely not. This "let's forgive" attitude in our society is the exact mentality that has led to sex-offenders thinking they can get away with these crimes and other crimesthestir.cafemom.com
For some, Peterson's gesture highlighted the need for a discussion about the efficacy of the registry system. User
Rod Temple said:
The Registries, and especially, especially the adjunct idiotic laws that they have enabled and promoted (e.g. Banishment), are counterproductive, negligibly beneficial, immoral, un-American, divisive, anti-factual, diversionary, often idiotic, thieving, expensive, wasteful, and often illegal.belmont.patch.com
Shelly Stow added:
After punishment is over, the more stable and normal a former offender's life is, the higher his chance of rehabilitation and the higher the community safety element is. This is what people need to understand.belmont.patch.com
Others suggested such open forum events as a tool in reform.
What he did should be a condition of parole. This way people can have the opportunity to better understand the potential threat in their neighborhood.thestir.cafemom.com
While appearances like Peterson's are rare, other open discussions have been held in the past. The social news site Reddit has held a number of
Ask Me Anything
(AMA) sessions with registered sex offenders.