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September 14, 2007

Patty Wetterling tells “the harm in sex offender laws”

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Giacalone @ 9:14 am

 Since the day in 1989, when her son Jacob was kidnapped by a stranger, Patty Wetterling has “been on a journey to find him and to stop this from ever happening to another child, another family.”  She and her husband are co-founders of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, which works to prevent sexual violence against children.  When Patty Wetterling speaks out against sex offender laws, we should listen.  Here is part of the opening of her op/ed piece  “The harm in sex-offender laws”  from this morning’s Sacramento Bee, (Sept. 14, 2007).

I’m worried that we’re focusing so much energy on naming and shaming convicted sex offenders that we’re not doing as much as we should to protect our children from other real threats.

Many states make former offenders register for life, restrict where they can live, and make their details known to the public. And yet the evidence suggests these laws may do more harm than good.

The piece was written in conjunction with the release of the Report on Wednesday of “No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the US, by Human Rights Watch (see our post).   It concludes:

   “We need to keep sight of the goal: no more victims. We need to be realistic. Not all sex offenders are the same. Not all sex offenses are the same. We need to ask tougher questions: What can we do to help those who have offended so that they will not do it again? What are the social factors contributing to sexual violence and how can we turn things around? None of us want our loved ones to be victims of sexual violence. None of us want to be the parent or sibling or child of a sex offender. But since the vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the family, sexual violence becomes personal very quickly. It affects all of us.

“We need better answers. We need to fund prevention programs that stop sexual violence before it happens. We need to look at what can help those released from prison to succeed so that they don’t victimize again — and that probably means housing and jobs and treatment and community support. Given that current laws are extremely popular, taking truly effective measures may exact a high political price. But that’s surely not too much to pay to prevent the kidnap, rape or murder of another child.”

Here’s the Comment of Rev. David Hess, of The, to Wetterling’s article:

Thank you Patty! I am a member of the Board of Directors of SOhopeful International. We are working with families, citizens and professionals to change the way Megan’s Law and similar legislation mandates the registration, tracking and community notification of non-violent, low risk sex offenders. We are making this effort in order to strengthen the Sex Offender Registry (SOR) and make it more effective, to help it to accomplish what it was originally intended to do.

Many of the current laws are counterproductive. We, like the Jacob Wetterling Foundations, want former offenders to succeed. When they do, our communities are safer. Denying former offenders housing, employment, and stable family lives makes our communities less safe.

We strongly agree that we need to prevent these crimes before they happen. Our hope is that lawmakers will consider such initiatives as

C. David Hess
SOhopeful International

Click this link to find information from JWF on child sexual abuse prevention education.


  1. Since when do scientist or people of faith have the corner on what is right for mankind?
    Science and Religions have both made mistakes which have cost them and mankind dearly. Without inclusive to all, choices offered to all, there can be no peace, unity, or care for mankind.
    Look we went over to Iraq to install the perfect government, which became the perfect failure. We now want to give in to more diversity.
    In California there is a ballot which if you seem too effeminate, as a male or too masculine as a female you will not be able to work. Discrimination divides us all. United States needs to pass on the need for control of its people concerning sex and get to the matters that matter.

    Comment by Keith Richard Radford Jr — October 9, 2007 @ 2:09 pm

  2. Wow I’m so glad someone has finally figured out that these laws are a mistake. Well not completely but the way politicians have run this in the ground they have become useless and damaging. LETS GET BACK TO THE TRUE INTENT. Track the predators. And let the rest go.

    Comment by Steven — January 2, 2009 @ 11:45 pm

  3. I am doing a research progectb on Patty Wetterling can you guys send me some info and/or pictures to me.
    Thanks a Lot!
    P.S my e-mail is (
    Please send me something!!!!!!
    I NEED HELP!!!!

    Comment by Kayla — January 26, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  4. Sorry, Kayla, but everything I know about Patty Wetterling is in this posting. You should be able to Google her name or foundation and find plenty of information — part of a research project’s purpose is learning how to find materials.

    Comment by David Giacalone — January 26, 2009 @ 3:18 pm

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