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.

The 10th Annual NARSOL Conference is This Week

The 10th Annual NARSOL Conference is This Week

NARSOL - the National Association for Rational Sex Offender Laws - is holding its 10th annual conference this week in Cleveland, Ohio, just down the road from the NBA Finals game 3 and 4. I'm guessing the conference will have a bit less fanfare, although I will predict it will feature some fireworks of its own.  https://conference.narsol.org/speakers-2018/

This group has been effective at engaging dialogue in state legislatures to affect laws that weigh heaviest on those convicted of sexual offenses, people they refer to most often as "registrants." The national registry is one area in which they've gained a lot of ground, because the one-size-fits-all label of SO is unduly harsh on those whose misdeeds do not warrant a lifetime of continued punishment and recrimination.

I will be presenting a workshop at the conference, looking at the ways in which social workers can become more effective with registrants if they focus on restorative strategies rather than punitive. 

But as important to me will be the chance to meet and discuss issues with other participants and presenters, many who are activists, as full of hope as they are determination.

Heartbreak and Hope

Heartbreak and Hope

Time Magazine Cover Story on Sex Offender Therapy