Annie's Mailbox: Fed Up in Milton, Fla.
Dear Annie: This is in response to the letter from "Not Living in Peace in Tallahassee, Fla.," who discovered a registered sex offender living next door. Your advice was way off. "Tallahassee" needs to put a sign in her yard saying "A SEX OFFENDER LIVES NEXT DOOR" with a big arrow pointing toward his house, and then get out the bullhorn and rally the neighbors so everyone knows who he is and what he looks like.
Predators and molesters don't like when their actions, descriptions and whereabouts are exposed. It's hard to find a victim if everyone knows what kind of nonhuman you are. These animals do not change. They have proven time and again that rehabilitation and punishment do nothing to stop them from destroying another life.
The state of Florida allows the public to view all registered sex offenders. You can even search your neighborhood to see how many are close to you. It's more than you think. -- Fed Up in Milton, Fla.
Dear Milton: We understand your anger, but please read on:
Dear Annie: I am a registered sex offender and would like to tell how things are on the other side of the fence. I was convicted over 10 years ago, and have served my time and taken full responsibility for what I did. I have lost numerous good jobs because someone exactly like "Tallahassee" took it upon herself to make sure the people I worked for knew they were employing a "monster." I want her to understand she is not just hurting me. She also is hurting my family.
I have no desire or intention to reoffend. All I want is to provide for my family and be a part of society. My suggestion to "Tallahassee" is to be aware of who lives around you, be alert to any mood changes in your children and educate them about what is good and bad. Above all, know where your children are at all times. Most sex offenders are family members, not your next-door neighbor. -- Indiana
Dear Annie: I personally know of two 18-year-old boys who are now considered child molesters and are listed on the registry. They had sex with 14-year-old girls who lied about their age. It was consensual sex, but the girls got caught by their parents, and the parents prosecuted. One of the boys was my grandson. He served six years for having consensual sex with a 14-year-old girl. Can you tell if a teenage girl is 14 or 16? That's the difference in the law. -- Concerned Grandma
Dear Annie: I am a registered sex offender. When I was 21, I had sex with my 15-year-old girlfriend. Both sets of parents knew, but when the parents of a friend found out, they went to the police, forcing my girlfriend's parents to press charges. I have a family of my own now and am a law-abiding citizen. I would never harm a living soul, and would not in a million years have sex with another 15-year-old. I have never reoffended, yet I am placed in the same category as serial rapists, child molesters, sexual batterers and deviant offenders. -- Better Now
Dear Annie: In over 30 years of criminal justice investigative experience, I have seen an increasing trend by police and prosecutors to stretch some of the actual offenses. Under this, a simple "urinating in public" easily gets elevated to "indecent exposure," and becomes a sex offense potentially requiring registration as a sex offender. Those who have a registered sex offender living nearby should examine the record to get a better understanding. The neighbor may be either more or less of a risk than such limited information would depict on its face. -- Retired Federal Criminal Investigator, Colorado
"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2017. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.