LANE COUNTY, Ore. (KVAL) — With sex offenders living in our communities, we take a deeper look at what the process of what re-integrating back into society looks like as well as why it happens.
“What I would say to community members that say they should be treated harshly, they are treated harshly,” Paul Solomon of Sponsors Inc. says.
He’s the head of the organization that helps sex offenders, when released from prison, re-enter society.
”Probably one out of three of the men in our programs are here with a sex offense conviction,” he says.
Parole Supervisor Greetje Brunsmann from Lane County says many sex offenders under parole supervision qualify as “level ones,” which are the least likely to offend based on what they did to get convicted.
“We have clients on supervision that, maybe, they were 19-years-old and had a 16-year-old girlfriend,” she says.
But, even for low-level sex offenders, contact with minors remains restricted, and for some offenders that means for life.
“Regardless of whether they have minor family members, the condition of no minor contact will be enforced,” she says.
It gets even more challenging. “There's this idea that sex offenders can't be rehabilitated,” Solomon says.
According to the Leadership Council organization, sex-offender re-offense rates are much lower than the average criminal released from prison, but still there’s a stigma.
“They really do have a significant challenge in their efforts to reintegrate back into the community,” he says.
The most difficult being housing, due to restrictions against contact with minors.
“In some communities they've created geographic restrictions that push people farther to the margins of society, and I think we do this folks a disservice when we do that it actually increases the likelihood that they'll re-offend,” he says.
That’s why organizations like Sponsors Inc. maintain housing complexes that meet all of the requirements to make sure sex offenders stay clean on parole.
“We also have partners in the community, low-income housing providers, where there are apartment communities where there are no minors on site that were able to place people out,” he says.
But, with appropriate housing being few and far between, Solomon says the need is there in order to help turn sex offenders into law-abiding citizens.