Last month, I dedicated a column to child molestation and the predominance of sex offenders in Nevada - Carson City specifically. The feedback I received was consistent, passionate, and came in frequent rushes. More than 40.
One couple sent me a letter (and I do sincerely thank them for it) that offered a look at an article from a neighboring newspaper. This couple claimed that the article "showed an attempt to deal with these seriously ill people" and that my emotionally charged comments "can only make a bad situation worse."
Hmmm ... Well now. I read the article that this couple provided. Too textbook for me. Too clinical on behalf of the sex offenders. Way too medicinal. Way too homogenized. Way too ... meaningless.
The staggering statistics that represent the population of sex offenders that I mentioned in my own column should have meant something to everyone. Everyone with a heart if not a family. So I thought anyway. Now, I think not.
Consider this: The Nevada Appeal reported on May 19 that Sen. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, asked an Assembly panel to support a bill she proposed to tighten the laws on sex offenders in Nevada - hopefully around their throats. She rendered her bill with passion and intelligence.
But for all the careful thought expressed by Titus, Judiciary Chairman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, reportedly expressed "concern" about the financial impact that Titus' bill would demand. What?! The judiciary committee should be embarrassed - completely embarrassed - by such a horrendous statement.
Concerned about the state's repository. Who gives a damn about the repository when that money is stacked up alongside the broken dead body of a little school girl, who by then resembles a sprawled, lifeless, featherless fetus of a sparrow that had just fallen from its nest. How can it possibly feel to be so worried about tripping over that raped little body to pick up a dollar? Priorities are all in place? Check. Unconditional, unacceptable bulls--t!
Sure, legislation finally passed in the final hour that included a version of Titus' proposed provisos that were rolled into a previous bill by Assemblywoman Genie Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, that regretfully and sinfully lay stagnant and unacknowledged of its worth. The original submittal was gutted and reprised for approval.
The bill is now being reviewed by the Department of Public Safety to determine how best to make the action points work. According to Titus, whom I spoke with this week, the new bill (SB 341) mandates the renewal of a registered sex offender's driver's license every year instead of every five years to maintain closer scrutiny of his or her whereabouts. The new bill also requires, upon an offender's release from prison, his or her consent to a search without a warrant.
The public issuance and accessibility of the residence of sex offenders will also improve from just a search by zip code. It will now make public the street where the sex offender lives. Clarification of the three classification tiers of offenders will become even more pronounced to allow the public to know the seriousness of their crime history and future potential to recommit (although I believe they are all of one classification: dangerous and diabolical).
Being removed from the list of registered sex offenders will also be more difficult. In addition to not performing more crimes, strict adherence to yearly license renewals and consent to a search without a warrant will also be integrally measured. All of these vitally significant provisions were included in the passing of the bill, but not after some incredibly dispassionate, inconsiderate, and inhumane comments were made by the judiciary chairman, whom I suspect had nothing to do with the approval of Dina Titus' original proposal as it was rolled into the previously existing one put forth by Ohrenschall.
Anderson claimed the bill may put an even tighter restraint on the state's repository since it suggests the background checks of employees for non-profit organizations at no charge. He then made it a point to say that the repository is responsible for tracking all criminals, and not just the history of sex offenders. And here it comes, the final cannon shot after a sizzle of whimpering financial impact cries: "(Sex offenders) are a small segment of the overall bad guys that are out there." Thus spoke Mr. Anderson.
Oh really? OK. Let's see. In 2004, there were 182 reported homicides in the entire state of Nevada. You got it, 182 out of a total 2,441,080 residents in the state. That percentage doesn't even show up on the calculator. In Carson City, there was one homicide.
But Nevada does have 9,789 sex offense cases on record - 5,175 of which are active as of May 5, 2005. A startling number. But, you see, this is not a big problem when you size it up to all the "... overall bad guys that are out there." No, not a big deal. Not a big deal at all. For the love of God, what is going on here?
I suppose worrying about the financial impact of Titus' proposal is easy to make when you're not a parent who is jarred from a sleep that never comes by the pleading cries of an invisible child, over and over and over again. Or the child who may have lived through a sexual assault, but wishes she was dead because of the mind sutures that have scarred so deep and wide, and just won't go away.
Just the thought, the very thought of a little girl (or little boy for that matter) being bent over, back broken by the frenzied thrusts of a sexual truncheon - an unforgiving flesh covered murder weapon - screaming out for her relentless tormentor to "Stop ... Please, Mister, stop ... I want to see my Mommy and Daddy ... Please!"
Yeah, the state's repository is worth worrying about. And sex offenders in Nevada are not a big deal. Neither is the life of a child. The state's repository can go to hell!
n John DiMambro is publisher of the Nevada Appeal. Write to him at email@example.com.