Sex Offenders Get Life Whether They Know It or Not

When did we as a society and individuals become a lynch mob? A very sad case in Florida shows what happens when hysteria over recent child killings by sex offenders takes on a life of its own.

Southwest Florida Herald-Tribune:

A convicted sex offender apparently committed suicide in despair over signs posted in his neighborhood calling him a “child rapist.”

Clovis Ivan Claxton was found dead by his father Thursday with one of the signs beside his body, less than a day after his release from a psychiatric hospital.

Like 75-year DUI records and throw-away-the-key sentences for non-violent drug violations, laws to brand sex offenders forever seem terrific on paper. Supporting them is also a winner on a politician’s campaign resume. But in real life…

Bright yellow, laminated signs displaying Claxton’s picture, date of birth, address and the words “child rapist” appeared earlier this week on utility poles in his neighborhood after a county commissioner proposed posting such information in the community. The sheriff rejected the idea…

After seeing the signs, Claxton, 38, told the sheriff’s office that he felt “extremely scared and feels that people in the neighborhood are now out to possibly hurt him.”

When he threatened suicide, he was involuntarily committed to the mental health hospital Tuesday and released the next day.

Well, good riddance, right? That’s what he gets for doing whatever he did. Ah, if only life were so simple.

Claxton was convicted in Washington state in 1991 of molesting a 9-year-old girl. He was 20 at the time, but his mother said he was developmentally much younger due to a brain injury.

Sounds like Clovis wasn’t much of a threat, especially after 18 years without a single incident of recidivism.

Jane Claxton blames County Commissioner Randy Harris, who proposed the flyers, for her son’s death…

She said her son required constant care and recently relied on leg braces and a wheelchair.

“He hasn’t been in trouble for 18 years, and he’s branded for life,” she said.

So does the county commissioner with the bright idea have any remorse? Nah.

Harris said sex offenders need to take responsibility for their actions.

“I don’t blame his death to the signs,” he said…

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation movement says that even the worst sinner can be redeemed, after owning past mistakes. Focusing on restorative, not retributive justice, changes lives. Clovis Claxton was doing everything right but he was still considered by an ignorant community deserving of threats and harassment.

Today, Florida’s Senate unanimously passed the Jessica Lunsford Act. It provides a minimum mandatory prison sentence of 25 years to life for people who molest children under 12. Any offender released from prison must wear an electronic monitor for life. And since life is so simple, so black and white, who could be against that?


5 thoughts on “Sex Offenders Get Life Whether They Know It or Not”

  1. You’re right — things usually aren’t simple or black and white. But some things are, and this is one of them. I’m all for the Lunsford Act.

    How do you know Clovis Claxton was “doing everything right?” All we know is he wasn’t caught molesting another child after his conviction.

    Maybe he had truly transformed himself into the choir boy his parents are making him out to be. But the way they’ve minimized his past crime makes it tough for me to take their word for it. They’re his parents — they’re entitled to see him through rose-colored glasses, but excuse me if I reserve the right to a bit of skepticism.

    I also papered my neighborhood with flyers about a sexual predator down the street from me. I describe my rationale in my blog if you’re interested.

  2. I don’t think his parents were making him out to be a choir boy. I also didn’t get the feeling they were minimizing his past crime, although you certainly seem to minimize his 18-year clean record.

    More background, from NBC WESH-2:

    Clovis Claxton, 38, had spinal meningitis as a child, so he never really matured, his parents said…They said while he was at a baby sitter’s 18 years ago, he and a 9-year-old girl exposed themselves to each other.

    His parents said they understand why people want to know where sex offenders live.

    “But they only see ‘sex predator’ and that’s it. They don’t bother to check any further,” Jane Claxton said.

    These are his parents’ statements but a lot of news organizations have reported the story with no surprises yet.

  3. Another story I read elsewhere said Claxton had been confined to a wheelchair since age 10, yet had managed at 24 to get a 6-year-old girl up into an attic several times for oral sex. I’d like to hear how he did that if he were really wheelchair-bound.
    As a society we need to face the fact that child molesters can never be rehabilitated, and because of the horrific emotional damage they inflict, if not murder, they must be isolated from the rest of us for as long as they live. Nothing is more important than protecting our children from these sick people, certainly not their rights to potentially prey on the innocent.

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