Wednesday, May 11


Seems the "Houston Chronicle" editorial board has issues with Florida's new sex offender law -- legislation passed on the heels of the Jessica Lunsford abduction-murder tragedy and signed into law by Governor Jeb Bush.

This kernel of wisdom must be a source of reassurance to Jessica's parents and grandparents:

Though horrifying, abduction/murders are actually quite rare, says Dr. Edward Sczechowicz, a psychologist who treats sexual offenders convicted by the Miami-Dade court system. The vast majority of sexual abuse is instead committed by family members or acquaintances.

What ensues in the editorial is the height of bleeding-heart, liberal naivette:

Tracking sex offenders with GPS bracelets — which will cost Florida $4 million in the first year alone — might be useful as an lab experiment. But lower tech, less showy and better documented measures are likely to work better in most cases.

One approach is to increase the number of well-trained probation officers. John Couey, charged with murdering Jessica Lunsford, was a convicted sexual offender who had violated probation. The private company hired to monitor him did not know he was a sex offender and lost track of him for more than a month, the Miami Herald reported.

Another low-tech method, periodic polygraph tests, can't be admitted as evidence in court but can track activities of offenders identified as special risks. Clinical research, though not as dramatic as sweeping sentencing laws, is starting to yield useful clues about predator behavior. Sex offenders who have never had a partner and show a history of antisocial behavior are considered most dangerous.

Although some compulsive offenders can only be contained rather than cured, counseling reduces recidivism. Community watch programs — as simple as parents patrolling play areas — are a powerful disincentive for predators, researchers say. Finally, educating children about healthy and unhealthy touch, whether by family or acquaintances, remains the best defense against sexual abuse.

To its credit, " jumped all over this editorial blather, as did Bill O'Reilly last night in his "Unresolved Problems" segment.