Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fear of Lamb

Evidently sex sells fear even better than it sells beer. Convicted child molester James Lamb was officially released from prison a year ago, but it wasn't until last week, after two aborted attempts, that the government was able to find a home for him that satisfied the requirements of the law.

No sooner than the news broke as to his whereabouts, the neighbors came out with their knives and pitchforks demanding he be moved elsewhere. They say they can't let their children out of the house now.

Let's get real. James Lamb did some horrible things, but he's unlikely to be a danger to anyone now. First of all, he's been castrated. He's also been through ten years of treatment, he's shackled to a GPS device that monitors his whereabouts 24/7, his home is under guard, he's subject to random searches of his home, and his face has been plastered on every newscast and newspaper in the county so everyone knows who he is.

I'd feel safer living next door to James Lamb than I would living anywhere in Salinas these days. Salinas has had a drive-by gang murder almost every week this year, and no neighborhood seems to be unaffected. Salinas residents are understandably anxious, but they haven't reached the emotional feelings of panic that were unleashed when James Lamb moved in to a rural area.

Drug dealers, gang members, armed robbers, and sometimes even murderers who have served their sentences (with scant behavioral treatment) are routinely released from prison. They move back into neighborhoods where hardly anybody blinks an eye. But when someone with the label "sex offender" is released all sorts of panic ensues. It is completely irrational.

Some people say Lamb shouldn't have been released in a rural area where police patrols are infrequent and response times are slow. They may have a point, but consider that voters approved a law which makes it virtually impossible for sex offenders to live anywhere else. Be careful what you vote for, you just might get it.

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