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Oh boy, here I go again, having relations with a hornet's nest.

/1
Rehabilitation of felons requires we, as a society, allow reintegration. We can and should put safeguards into place and remain aware of situations that impact safety, however you can not demand exclusion of a released individual without heightening the risk of recidivism. /2
In mid-February I ran a poll asking what the primary goal of incarceration should be. The overwhelming response given was we should strive to rehabilitate prisoners. In the long run, this is something I agree with. /3
The question is more difficult, though, when we look at the possible risk to others that comes with allowing full reintegration. Some offenses and offenders, if they do reoffend, will by the nature of their offense cause irreparable harm to others. /4
In relation to that risk, most sex offender programs have terms of parole or probation that strictly monitor the offender for a period after release in hopes that this will allow them to identify a recidivist and prevent future harm. /5
However, the fact is that it's easier for a person not to offend for 2 years than it would be for a person driven to commit such offenses to avoid offending for 20 years. There is always some degree of risk present. /6
Most recently the discourse on this subject has been in regards to sex offenders, especially sex crimes against children, and to what degree we should allow or support their reintegration into, more specifically, spaces where a risk of offense is ostensibly higher. /7
The question is a difficult one for many reasons. First because by allowing full reintegration we could possibly be allowing a predator access to new/potential victims, something that should be avoided. /8
Second because giving such offenders an imprimatur of authority or approval does not serve to indicate the proper disdain necessary to reflect the societal disapproval of the actions which have made them offenders...an integral part of discouraging other offenders. /9
Not to mention the fear that an imprimatur of approval, or the appearance of authority - not just actual authority - could, for the recidivist offender, be a powerful tool in reoffending. /10
However, at the same time we must recognize that there is no single type of offender. While there is the habitual or psychologically drive offender who seeks out victims due to their own mental state and predilection, there are also what we call "opportunity offenders." /11
These are people who would not offend in the first place had it not been for a correlation of factors under the right circumstances. They are not driven by a pathology towards this particular crime, in other words, but are rather acting on a chance. /12
Make no doubt, opportunistic offenders that are not pathologically driven are still depraved in their actions. They are still responsible, and they are not merely victims of circumstance. They still made the conscience decision to offend, no matter the circumstances. /13
However, there is a genuine question in criminology, psychological, and sociological fields of study as to whether such opportunistic offenders are immune from rehabilitation and, yes, even reintegration. /14
Likewise, where there is an untreated pathological reason for sexual offenders, studies have shown the recidivism rate is higher and the person is more of a risk. /15
In other words, yes, a sex offender is or can be a risk. However, from the outside looking in we have no way of knowing how much of a risk without more than a single occurrence. We have to look at all behavior over time. /16
Has the person reoffended? Is the person engaging in activities that appear inappropriate with people of the sort they offended with? Are there boundaries in place? Importantly, though, is "Are they in therapy" and "Have they accepted their offense?" /17
In general, most therapists that provide therapy services to sex offenders (many of whom also provide therapy to victims) agree that until an offender accepts what they have done, takes responsibility for it, and stops trying to minimize it, they are at risk of reoffending. /18
You can see what this looks like in this 2018 Time article specifically talking about sex offenders, recidivism, and reoffending. time.com/5272337/sex-of…

/19
If an offender is opportunistic, with proper support and therapy their risk of re-offense can go to near zero with proper measures. Conversely, where the offender is pathologically driven, there is always non-zero risk of offense no matter what measures are in place. /20
To make a long thread short, there really is no single answer to how to handle a past offender and their reintegration into society, nor how to protect society at the same time. We can't simply shut people out of society without increasing isolation and risk of re-offense. /21
At the same time, we owe a duty to those around us to protect them and maintain awareness about risks that may be present in their environment. /22
There are potential risks and potential benefits to both. And organizations or groups of people may find themselves walking tightropes to determine an appropriate response. /23
It’s a complicated dichotomy. The best I can suggest is to keep yourself and those around you safe and aware, and report behavior that is threatening no matter who it may come from. /24
I will say, I don’t envy those who have to balance these competing concerns. My job ends with the gavel in many cases. At least that’s a small mercy.
Thread continues here because me is idiot.

As a P.S. - This is not any endorsement or support for any person or position. It is a discussion of the issues surrounding questions raised by the current discourse and the conundrum of how to balance dueling interests of reintegration and keeping people safe.
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