In Puritan America, a married woman’s illicit affair with a minister landed her in jail. After her release, Hester Prynne was sentenced to forever wear a big red “A” on her dress. 

Nearly 375 years later, the U.S. continues to be scandalized, tantalized and perplexed by sex, especially about sex offenders. Tough on crime, we’re still struggling to learn: 

  • Why domestic violence and incest are so under-reported by victims? 
  • Why most people think every sexual offender is a serial rapist? 
  • Why, even among therapists, many continue to believe sex-offenders to be untreatable? 
  • Why supervision after offenders’ release tends to-wards punitive rather than restorative? 

It’s time to bring the subject of sex crime out of the dark ages, time to help victims shed the shame and trauma of their experience. It’s also time to allow offenders an opportunity to show they can change, make amends and start to earn back trust and acceptance from society.

Eclipse Thinking

Eclipse Thinking

At ground zero during the total solar eclipse this week, a thought crossed my mind that lit up an otherwise darkened political and cultural landscape. At the moment of totality - when the moon fully covered the sun - the world as we knew it was rendered in a very different light. The flowers and animals - perhaps all living things - noticed that things were different. The awareness of that landscape- though devoid of it's normal texture and color - helped to reduce the black and white thinking for a minute or two.

At totality, people's minds shifted away from difference. Under the spell of nature, we became united in awe and wonder. We went a little bit pagan, feeling humbled by the magnificence and the magnitude of our solar system. Our squabbles quieted in concert with a hush that fell everywhere. The birds and bees landed and watched. The flowers blinked too, wondering whether this day would return and sustain them.

The awareness humanity may have gained dissolved quickly, though. As soon as the light returned, before the moon had moved out of the sun's way, traffic quickly jammed the arteries of highways leading back to life as usual, impatience and hatred returning as quickly as it had left. A friend shook her head and muttered..."It's lunacy," and then she laughed, realizing the pun she had made and its application to our activity as a species.

The book we've written about sex offenders may, hopefully, create an eclipse as well. The sun comes up each day on the landscape of punishment and corrections. Along comes a book that temporarily draws ones focus to another way of viewing treatment and community support for sex offenders. But like the aftermath of a solar eclipse, what residue remains when the book is finished? How do we take the new awareness afforded by an eclipse into the reality of "normal" life? How can we measure the emotional or psychological impact of surprising natural events - or an illuminating book? And how might we commit to retaining a bit of wonder and humility as the world quickly returns to the light of old habits?

The Wedding of Marilyn Callahan and Fred Welsh

The Wedding of Marilyn Callahan and Fred Welsh

Post Prison Supervision - New Tactics Yielding Better Results

Post Prison Supervision - New Tactics Yielding Better Results